Hospitals to evaluate flu policies


As the rate of flu-related deaths and infections seems to be slowing down, hospitals are now re-evaluating their temporary restrictions on visitors. Saint Francis Health officials plan to review their restrictions today.

Right now, visitors are restricted at St. Francis, as they are at all the other hospitals in Marion County, due to influenza.

But a hospital spokesperson says the number of cases of influenza seems to be leveling off, so the hospital plans to discuss those restrictions.

Of course, they will likely wait to make any changes until the Marion County Health Department says it is safe to lift restrictions.

While influenza cases seem to be declining, doctors are seeing more and more people with the Norovirus - a stomach bug that causes patients to become violently ill. And the strain that is going around now is especially contagious.

Doctors can not cure Norovirus, but a Saint Francis Health doctor says they can relieve some of the symptoms.

"For some people that are coming in here sick and dehydrated, we're giving them IV fluids," said Dr. Howard Levitian. "We're giving them medicine to stop the vomiting and make them feel better."  Other patients, Levitian said, are sent home with medicine for vomiting and practical advice.

In addition to washing hands, there are some ways to prevent spreading the virus.

  • Use a dishwasher. When you wash dishes by hand you can't get the water hot enough to kill the virus.
  • You also need to use the hot water setting when doing laundry for anyone infected with the virus.
  • And be sure to close the toilet lid before flushing because flushing stirs up virus particles and droplets and spreads them throughout the room.

"A lot of people use hand gels, and the Norovirus is resistant to those," according to Dr. Robert Blankenship of St. Vincent Hospital, "so if you think there is any chance you could be around anyone who is sick, you need to wash your hands for a minimum of 30 seconds (and) try to get underneath the nails."

More information about the Norovirus