Citing Flu, Allina Health to Start New Visitor Restrictions

January 02, 2018 06:39 PM

It's the middle of the flu season in Minnesota. And as such, Allina Health is taking steps at all of its facilities to prevent influenza from spreading.

Starting Tuesday, new visitor restrictions are in place at each of Allina Health's 12 hospitals and more than 90 clinics.


Allina has seen an increase in patients with flu-like symptoms at its emergency departments. 

RELATED: Flu Shot Could Be Less Effective This Year

Marsha Studer, Allina's director of organizational safety, says the health care company want to do everything it can to protect patients and staff.

"Just since the Christmas Eve we've seen a 150 percent  increase in people coming in for testing, and we've had a 200 percent increase in our hospitalizations," she said.

Allina is implementing these visitor guidelines to protect all patients and staff:

  • Children under the age of five (5) are asked not to visit patients.
  • Visitors to Mom Baby/Birth Center units may be screened for wellness and children under 5 will be screened for wellness before visiting.
  • Visitors who are sick should refrain from visiting patients in the hospital.
  • If you or your child has a cough or sore throat, please wear a mask while in our building.
  • Compassionate exceptions may be considered based on a patient's critical condition/prognosis. Talk to a nurse.

"And the reason we have visitor restrictions is that many people do not know they are ill or becoming ill, so we don't want to have inadvertent exposure" Studer said. "We still want our patients to come to see us if they're sick. But we'd like our visitors to, if they are feeling ill, or if they know they've been exposed, we'd prefer that they not visit."

According to the latest Minnesota Department of Health weekly influenza report, the flu is now widespread in Minnesota for the first time this season.

Studer said Allina Health implements visitor restrictions whenever that happens.

"The state has indicated that (the flu) is widespread, although it is only in the metro area primarily, not in a lot of our rural areas yet," she said. "But we've gone ahead and implemented system-wide, all our hospitals."

Allina says there are of course exceptions to the visitor restrictions based on a patient's critical condition and prognosis.

Minnesota is not alone when it comes to the flu. The latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Flu Report shows elevated levels of influenza across the country.

Tips to Avoid Getting or Spreading the Flu

  • Make sure to get a flu shot every year
  • Don't get too close to people who are sick
  • Make sure to cover yourself when sneezing or coughing.
  • Always wash hands with soap and water.
  • Don't touch your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Take flu antiviral drugs and antibiotics
  • Do not share cups and straws

For more information, visit both the Center for Disease Control and Minnesota Department of Health's online flu sites.



Kevin Doran

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