Hospital limits patients’ visitors because of influenza

Published 11:34 am Wednesday, February 28, 2007

By Staff
Policy, which takes effect today, likely to last for two weeks
By NIKIE MAYO, News Editor
Because of recent outbreaks of the flu and stomach bugs, Beaufort County Hospital is limiting patients’ visitors for about the next two weeks.
Each patient may have two immediate family members over the age of 12 visit them, according to a policy that goes into effect today. The hospital’s staff requests that children younger than 12 not be brought to the hospital unless they need medical treatment.
The hospital ran a “rapid flu test” and found that 27 people had been seen for the flu in the past month. Of that total, 11 of the cases came within the past week, Whitfield said. Symptoms of the flu include fever, cough, chills and aches, she said.
The hospital did not have statistics for cases of gastrointestinal viruses treated. But Whitfield estimated the emergency room — on a daily basis — has seen 60 to 80 patients exhibiting symptoms associated with the virus. Those symptoms include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, she said.
The hospital’s policy comes about 10 days after Pitt County Memorial Hospital in Greenville implemented a similar policy.
Beaufort County Hospital’s policy prohibits visitors younger than 12 because they are more vulnerable to such viruses, she said.
Whitfield said the hospital’s policy will likely last two weeks. But that’s not set in stone.
Because of the prevalence of the flu bug — and because any unused vaccine will have to be destroyed — Beaufort County commissioners recently voted to allow the health department to give flu shots at no cost to recipients.
The free flu shots are available at the Beaufort County Health Department from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Appointments are not necessary.