Brought to you by WBIW News and Network Indiana
Last updated on Thursday, January 17, 2013
(UNDATED) - Across the state there are some very different pictures of the flu.
Evansville, in Vanderburgh County, has one of the worst flu seasons in the last several years according to Denise Cory, the head of the county health department's communicable diseases division.
Further north, it's another story.
Beth Burkhardt, a registered nurse with the Hancock County Health Department, says there is no shortage of people with flu-like symptoms, but the number of people actually testing positive for the flu, is low.
Just yesterday (Tuesday) hospitals in Vanderburgh County started to restrict visitors to protect some of the more vulnerable patients at the hospital, who may die if exposed to the flu. Both health departments say it isn't too late to get the flu shot, though availability isn't what it was even a month ago.
Hospitals in Marion County are trying to stop the spread of the flu by cutting down on the number of visitors to patients.
Health Department director Dr. Virginia Caine says the temporary hospital visitation policy will take effect this Friday, as the number of patients visiting emergency rooms for flu-like symptoms has almost doubled over the past week.
Almost four-percent of total emergency room visits are now for the flu, and while that is high, Caine points out that it is still below the ten-percent level reached during the H-1-N-1 outbreak in 2009.
Caine says all hospitals and health networks that participate in the Indianapolis Coalition for Patient Safety have agreed to implement the least restrictive option of the 2009 Patient Visitation Tier 1 Policy. This includes Marion County hospitals within IU Health, St. Vincent Health, Franciscan St. Francis Health, and Community Health Network, as well as Wishard Hospital and the Roudebush V.A. Medical Center.
The tier 1 option of the patient visitation policy restricts hospital access to visitors with influenza-like illnesses, fever or cough, visitors under the age of 18 - unless special arrangements are made, and visitors beyond immediate family, partner or significant other.
Caine says it is only the second time for activating these restrictions, and it is the first time that hospitals have implemented the policy at the same time as a group.
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