Special to the Opelika Observer
In the last week, a total of 233 confirmed cases of the flu have been seen in the EAMC and EAMC-Lanier Emergency Departments. Plus, a total of 26 patients with flu or flu-like symptoms are currently hospitalized at the two hospitals. As a result, East Alabama Medical Center officials have made the decision to put visitor restrictions in place at both hospitals, effective immediately.
Visitors to either hospital are asked to follow these guidelines:
Anyone displaying flu-like symptoms should not visit anywhere in the hospital.
Visitation is restricted to healthy immediate family members who are age 12 and older.
Visitation in the Emergency Department (ED) is also limited—only one healthy family member (ages 12 and up) per patient and the length of visits may be limited.
To reach an EAMC patient by hospital phone, dial 334-528 and the patient’s room number (example: 334-528-7777). At EAMC-Lanier, dial 334-710-0 and the patient’s room number (example: 334-710-0999). If the patient’s room number is not known, the EAMC hospital operator can be reached at 334-749-3411. The operator at EAMC-Lanier can be reached at 334-756-9180 and then choosing option 2.
Brooke Bailey, EAMC’s Infection Prevention Director, said using other forms of communication may be best during this time.
“We understand the importance of visitation, and we usually encourage it. However, unless the patient needs help from a family member, relying on Facetime, texting and other methods of communicating could be beneficial to both the patient and the visitor. Our goal in putting these restrictions in place is to slow the spread of the flu and protect our patients who are vulnerable,” Bailey said.
Based on prior years, the restrictions will likely remain in place into the month of March.
Bailey said the following tips listed below will further help everyone in preventing the spread of the flu, especially as people head back to work and school following the holidays.
Tips for preventing and/or controlling the spread on influenza:
Wash your hands thoroughly (and often) with soap and warm water.
Cough or sneeze into your sleeve if a tissue is not available.
Use hand sanitizer to clean your hands in public places.
Use sanitizer wipes to clean surfaces (such as grocery cart handles) in public places.
If you have the flu or flu-like symptoms, isolate yourself at home; do not go to work or school.