Tonawanda News

February 13, 2013

Flu season slows down

Staff Reports
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Kenmore Mercy and all other Catholic Health hospitals are lifting visitor restrictions that were enacted last month as a high number of patients being treated for the flu and respiratory illnesses begins to wane.

The hospitals are resuming their normal visitor policy, which allows children under the age of 14 to visit patients in nursing homes, the maternal unit and all other units with the permission of the nurse manager. 

This policy covers all Catholic Health hospitals and long term care facilities including Mercy Hospital of Buffalo, Kenmore Mercy Hospital, Sisters of Charity Hospital and its St. Joseph Campus, Father Baker Manor, McAuley Residence, Mercy Skilled Nursing Facility at OLV, St. Catherine Labourè Health Care Center and St. Francis of Williamsville.

Visitors can brighten the spirits of our patients, but people should never visit a hospital or long term care facility if they are not feeling well, have a fever, or are experiencing respiratory-related illnesses,” said Dr. Kevin Shiley, physician adviser, Catholic Health Infection Prevention & Control. “Children are especially susceptible to illness, as well as spreading infection, so extra precautions should be taken among young visitors.”

The flu season began unusually early in January and usually doesn’t hit its peak until mid-February. Due to the early start, the season is now beginning to end and fewer are visiting hospitals with flu symptoms. At Kenmore Mercy, 80 to 100 patients were being treated daily for the flu in the beginning of January. 

“We have seen a reduction,” Dawn Cwirley, a spokesman for Kenmore Mercy Hospital said. “We have averaged 85 daily emergency department visits over the last week.”

Anyone still experiencing flu symptoms such as a sore throat, fever or respiratory issues should still refrain from visiting hospital patients or nursing home residents. 

And residents are still being encouraged to get the flu shot if they have not already done so, and to first contact a primary doctor or go to a clinic before visiting the Emergency Department.