Northwestern Medicine hospitals in Huntley, McHenry and Woodstock implemented a visitor management plan Tuesday in response to a rise in hospitalized patients with influenza.
Dr. Irfan Hafiz – chief medical examiner for Northwestern Medicine’s Huntley, McHenry and Woodstock hospitals – said influenza management plans are in place every year and are implemented when it is deemed appropriate.
When the visitor restrictions are initiated depends in the number of influenza cases nationally, regionally and locally as well as the number of cases that are seen at sister hospitals. Last year, Northwestern Medicine's McHenry County hospitals went under a similar management plan in March.
Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee and Northwestern Medicine Valley West hospitals already have set visitor guidelines for influenza.
“We try to be proactive when we see a rise in the community,” Hafiz said.
Although hospital visiting hours will continue from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day, only two visitors per patient will be allowed at one time.
Visitors younger than 18 – unless they have children in the hospital – will not be permitted to visit patients in the hospital.
Visitors who feel sick or have a fever, sore throat or runny nose should refrain from visiting patients or accompanying a patient during a clinic visit.
At this point in the year, Hafiz said his hospitals have seen more influenza cases than the same point in time last year. Hafiz also said he doesn’t think the region’s influenza cases have peaked.
Northwestern Medicine encourages anyone 6 months or older to get an influenza vaccination. Visitors also should regularly wash their hands and use hand sanitizer.
Symptoms of the flu may include fever, cough, sore throat, stuffy or runny nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Those at the highest risk of the illness include pregnant women, young children, individuals suffering from chronic health conditions such as asthma or diabetes, those already under a doctor's care for a serious illness and adults 65 or older.
Hafiz said it's not too late to receive an influenza vaccination, which can be done at any of Northwestern Medicine's outpatient centers.