Published on January 04, 2010
Minimum visitor age at Community Hospital lowered to 14
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Brenda Moore (831) 625-4544
Communication and Marketing: (831) 625-4505
MONTEREY, Calif. - Visitors to Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula and Westland House must be 14 years of age or older as part of a continuing effort to prevent the spread of H1N1 (swine) flu. Visitors under 14 will not be allowed in the hospital or Westland House.
Community Hospital first implemented a flu-related age restriction in October, prohibiting visitors under age 18. That restriction was intended to focus on the age group in which H1N1 most frequently occurs. As the flu season has progressed, the majority of pediatric cases of H1N1 at Community Hospital have been among children under 14, so the visitor-restriction policy has been modified, enabling older teens to visit.
"With this change we are further pinpointing the age group most affected by flu while enabling others to visit loved ones," says Patti Emmett, infection prevention coordinator at Community Hospital. "We want to remind all people, however, not to visit if they are ill."
The visitor restriction includes those under 14 who have had an H1N1 vaccine. While vaccines are a critical tool to prevent flu, they are not 100-percent effective and it also takes time for immunity to develop after they are administered.
Exceptions to the under-14 restriction are made only in limited circumstances, primarily when a visit is deemed critical because of the patient's condition. Families who anticipate such a situation are asked to call the hospital at 624-5311 and speak with the administrative supervisor or to call Westland House at 658-3737 and speak to the charge nurse before visiting.
The visitor limitations will continue to be evaluated throughout the flu season and revised if appropriate.
"We know that having visitors while in the hospital can be an important part of recovery," Emmett says. "But our main responsibility is the safety of our patients and in some cases restricting visitors is actually the best thing for them. We appreciate the understanding and cooperation of the community in this effort."
In general, Community Hospital asks that people who are ill do not visit patients and offers these guidelines to stay well or get well during the flu season:
Prevention: Your key to staying healthy
- Get vaccinated with both types of flu shots (pandemic and seasonal flu).
- Keep your hands clean with hand sanitizer or soap and water.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Germs are spread this way.
- Avoid close contact (within 6 feet) with people with flu-like illness.
The symptoms of pandemic H1N1 flu virus are similar to the symptoms of seasonal flu and include the following:
- Fever (temperature of 100 degrees F. or above)
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Body aches
- Vomiting and diarrhea may also occur
If you are ill
- Stay home, drink plenty of liquids, and rest.
- Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze. Cough into your elbow rather than covering your mouth with your hands or use a tissue to cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it. Clean your hands.
- Keep away from others as much as possible.
- Visit with friends by phone.
- Avoid travel if you are sick.
- Do not go to work or school until 24 hours after your fever is gone.
Seeking medical attention
Most people recover without medical care. However, you should consult with your doctor or go to an urgent care clinic promptly if you experience any of the following warning signs:
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Pain or pressure in the chest
- Severe or persistent vomiting
- Flu symptoms improve but then return and worsen
- The hospital Emergency department should be used when emergency-level care is needed.
Where to get vaccines
Community Hospital does not provide vaccines to outpatients. For availability, please check with:
- Your doctor
- Central Coast Visiting Nurse Association, 648-3777
- Monterey County Department of Health, 796-1280
- Your local pharmacy
Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula, marking its 75th anniversary this year, has grown and evolved in direct response to the changing healthcare needs of the people it serves. It is a nonprofit healthcare provider with 205 staffed acute-care hospital beds and 28 skilled-nursing beds, delivering a continuum of care from birth to end of life, and every stage in between. It serves the Monterey Peninsula and surrounding communities through 15 locations, including the main hospital, outpatient facilities, satellite laboratories, a mental health clinic, a short-term skilled nursing facility, Hospice of the Central Coast, and business offices. Find more information about Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula at http://www.chomp.org/