ASHEVILLE, N.C. (January 26, 2018) – Mission Health is elevating its restrictions because of an increase in reported influenza-like illness throughout North Carolina. Effective immediately, only partners and immediate family members over the age of 12 will be permitted in patient care areas.
Mission Health previously asked visitors to limit hospital visits based on recommendations from its infection prevention department. The number of reported influenza-like illness cases has continued to increase statewide now to more than 6 percent, which activates the system’s Visitor Restriction Policy.
“Our Visitor Restriction Policy protects both our patients and team members by decreasing the risk of spread of influenza throughout the community,” said William R. Hathaway, MD, Chief Medical Officer. “It is better for friends and family to call loved ones rather than visit them in the hospital. Implementation of this policy is critical to the health of our community.”
Visitor restrictions will remain until reported flu-like activity decreases.
This precaution is being implemented at Mission Hospital and its member hospitals in the western North Carolina region, which includes CarePartners in Asheville, McDowell Hospital in Marion, Transylvania Regional Hospital in Brevard, Blue Ridge Regional Hospital in Spruce Pine, Angel Medical Center in Franklin and Highlands-Cashiers Hospital in Highlands.
Mission Health also urges community members who become ill with symptoms of the flu to contact their primary care provider, seek care at a walk-in clinic like Mission My Care Now, conduct an online visit with a doctor or visit a nearby urgent care facility. It’s important to avoid the emergency department unless there are signs and symptoms of severe illness, as it can expose the patient to other illnesses and expose others to illness as well.
“We understand these restrictions may pose a hardship for some,” said Kathy Guyette, RN, Senior Vice President of Patient Care Services and President of Regional Member Hospitals. “But our utmost concern is for the health and safety of all our patients and our entire community, and we implement restrictions only when absolutely necessary.”
People who have not yet received the influenza vaccine are urged to do so immediately and to ensure that their children have been vaccinated. Children under 12, vaccinated or not, will not be permitted in patient care areas of the hospitals.
Practicing good hand hygiene is the No. 1 precaution individuals can take to protect against the flu virus and other germs. Hand sanitizing stations are available at hospital entrances and throughout the buildings. Individuals can also practice good habits like avoiding close contact with people who are sick, covering your cough, getting plenty of sleep, maintaining physical activity levels, managing your stress, drinking plenty of fluids and eating nutritious food.
Symptoms that could be early signs of the flu include fever, headache, cough, extreme dehydration, lightheadedness and shortness of breath. Treatment with antivirals is the most helpful within the first 48 hours of symptoms presenting. Individuals are urged to contact their primary care provider if they start to experience any of these symptoms or notice them in someone else.
Community members can learn more at mission-health.org/flu.
ABOUT MISSION HEALTH
Mission Health, based in Asheville, North Carolina, is the state’s sixth-largest health system. For the fifth time in the past six years, Mission Health has been named one of the nation’s Top 15 Health Systems by Truven Health Analytics, an IBM Company and part of IBM Watson Health in 2017. We are the only health system in North Carolina to achieve this recognition. Mission Health operates six hospitals, numerous outpatient and surgery centers, post-acute care provider CarePartners, long-term acute care provider Asheville Specialty Hospital, and the region’s only dedicated Level II trauma center. With approximately 12,000 team members and 2,000 volunteers, Mission Health is dedicated to improving the health and wellness of the people of western North Carolina. For more information, please visit mission-health.org or @MissionHealthNC.