Local hospitals taking extra measures to fight the flu

HARTFORD – Due to the severity of the flu this season, with a reported 52 deaths in Connecticut, local hospitals are taking extra measures to keep patients safe.

Hartford Hospital has signage up near the entrances of the facility with patient safety precautions. The Flu Advisory signs remind visitors that if they’re experiencing flu-like symptoms and don’t need medical attention, they should avoid visiting patients.

It reads: “PLEASE DO NOT visit our patients until you are feeling better.”

Flu-like symptoms include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny nose and body aches.

Chief of Infectious Diseases at Hartford Hospital Dr. Jack Ross said the hospital takes these measures, every year, to keep patients from getting even more sick.

“We try not to put the security guards and the people at our front ends in the position of trying to police this,” he said. “We ask that people self-select, be responsible and not come to visit.”

Middlesex Hospital, in Middletown is taking a more strict approach. The hospital said it is limiting who can visit patients, effective immediately.

A hospital spokesperson said anyone with flu-like symptoms will not be allowed to visit patients.

Middlesex Hospital restrictions include only a maximum of two visitors at a time. If someone under the age of 18 wants to visit, they will need special permission.

According to the hospital, only immediate family or a designated support system can visit.

“Middlesex Hospital is restricting visitors for the safety of its patients, staff and guests,” the hospital wrote in a press release.

“The flu is a serious illness that should not be ignored. If you have not received a flu shot, the hospital encourages you to do so. If you have the flu, please stay home and rest.”

Dr. Ross with Hartford Hospital said they normally see around 400 cases during flu season and they’ve already had 520 cases. About 55 percent of those people have been hospitalized. Predominately, Hartford Hospital is seeing H3N2 with 5 out of 6 cases of patients between 30-65 years old, according to Dr. Ross.

“Every year we see a second wave of flu illness, later in the season, from influenza B predominately,” he said.

Dr. Ross said it is never too late to get a flu shot. It takes about two weeks to have immunity.

“Getting a flu shot you protect your children, you protect your parents or your grandparents,” he said. “It’s not just about us, it’s also about protecting those around us.”

According to the Connecticut Department of Public Health, between August 27, 2017 and January 27, 2018 there have been nearly 3,000 reports of flu in the state. The Department of Health will release updated statistics, Thursday.

If you need a flu shot, The North Central District Health Department is holding a flu clinic Thursday, February 8 from 3-7 p.m., located at 375 Hartford Turnpike in Vernon.

According to a press release, children 4-18 will get a free vaccine. Those 19 and older will have to pay $30 (cash or check only).

Aetna, Cigna and Connecticare insurance will be accepted if you bring your insurance card.