By Michaela Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – A heavier than usual flu season is moving North Mississippi Medical Center to limit visitors to protect patients and reduce the spread of the disease.
“NMMC has been hard hit by the flu, and we’re enlisting the community’s help in limiting our patients’ exposure to the flu,” said Steve Altmiller, NMMC president.
The Tupelo hospital has seen an increase in patients admitted to the hospital and in emergency department visits since the holidays.
“We are limiting visitors to one per patient at a time. Our strong preference is to have one designated family member or caregiver per patient during their hospital stay in order to limit the number of visitors hospitalwide.”
The North Mississippi Health Services community hospitals in Pontotoc, Iuka, Eupora, West Point and Hamilton, Ala., are taking similar measures, said Tim Moore, NMHS vice president.
Baptist Memorial Hospitals in Oxford, Booneville and New Albany
have not changed visiting policies, but are asking people not to visit if they are sick, said Baptist system spokeswoman Ashley Compton.
For most healthy people, the highly contagious virus-borne disease is a temporary annoyance, but the elderly, hospitalized patients, young children and those with certain health conditions are at risk for serious complications with the flu.
The hospital is asking that any visitors with flu symptoms leave the hospital and not visit again until they have been well for seven days. Additionally, children under 15 are also asked not to visit.
Visitors with coughs are asked to use a tissue to cover their faces.
NMMC employees who have not received a flu vaccine will be required to wear a mask for all patient care duties during the flu season.