Six hospitals in Des Moines are lifting visitor restrictions that were put in place in October when the H1N1 flu virus reached its peak. Jeff Brock, with Iowa Health and Mercy Medical Center, says confirmed cases of H1N1 have plummeted. So, the hospitals are dropping rules that only allowed two adults at a time to visit patients.
“If seasonal flu would pick up to the same extremes that H1N1 did or if H1N1 influenza would come back into the area, we would probably give consideration to reinstituting the precautions again,” Brock said. Under the rules, children were not allowed to visit most patients. Brock says most people understood the rules were designed to minimize the risk of spreading the H1N1 flu.
“There were a few complaints,” Brock said. “We had to educate some of the visitors…it was just to protect their loved one while they’re in the hospital.” There’s no word from other hospitals around the state if they’ll also be lifting restrictions on visitors. Brock says visitors to any hospital should continue to take normal precautions. Those include staying home if they have a fever, coughs or a sore throat.
“If they’ve had any of those symptoms…they should give some consideration to not coming in to visit,” Brock said. All visitors to hospitals are being asked to wash their hands with soap and water or hand gel. Some visitors are required to wear a face mask.