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Helena hospital restricts visitors due to flu activity

Posted at 6:44 AM, Jan 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-23 10:31:41-05

HELENA – Visitor restrictions have been put in place at St. Peter’s Health due to influenza and other respiratory illnesses in the community.

Anyone with flu-like symptoms and children 12 years old and under is asked to stay home if they are not receiving healthcare.

“Visitor restrictions at this time of year are common throughout the county at medical facilities. Our number one priority here at St. Peter’s is the safety of our patients and staff,” said Chief Medical Officer Dr. Shelly Harkins.

“Although the flu is common this time of year, it is important to remember that it can also be deadly, especially for the immunocompromised, very young and elderly,” she added.

St. Peter’s has seen 78 confirmed cases of influenza so far this season with 56 new cases in January alone.

“We’re about at a fifth of what we saw last year at this same point in time– so that’s a good thing,” said Director of Quality Jon Scallan. “It’s a good sign that we’re seeing less of those cases. What is concerning to us is how rapidly we’re seeing the number of positive cases climb.”

The health organization said many of their patients have compromised immune systems and can get very sick from visitors who may only have mild flu symptoms.

“We want to remind the community that visitors 12 and under as well as those exhibiting flu-like symptoms will not be able to visit patients on our Women and Children’s unit,” Scallan said.

“While giving birth is a joyous time for families and parents are eager to introduce the newest member of their family to their young siblings, the health and safety of everyone, including the new baby, is our top priority,” added Scallan.

Well wishes to patients can be expressed by phone, card, or through email.

The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services reports that season to date, Montana has seen 625 confirmed cases with 44 of those requiring hospitalization. Two flu-related deaths have also been reported.

-John Riley reporting for MTN News