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Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Marion County hospitals enact visitor restrictions due to rising flu-like illnesses

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Marion County hospitals are enacting visitor restrictions due to an increase in flu-like illnesses such as RSV, influenza and COVID-19 that experts have coined as a ”tripledemic.

The Indiana Hospital Association warned in early November about an early start to RSV and flu season when the five largest Indiana hospitals specializing in pediatric care were already seeing pediatric beds at 70% occupied. Data from the Indiana Department of Health suggests this is the earliest start to flu season since 2011 — and health care workforce shortages continue to strain hospital capacity. During the week of Nov. 20-26, the rate of influenza-like illnesses reported in patients was the highest in 10 years, with the highest among the 5-17 age group.

In response to concerns about increases in flu activity, Marion County Public Health Department Director and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Virginia A. Caine requested that hospitals in Marion County begin temporary restrictions for visitors. Hospitals of all health systems in Marion County agreed to implement Tier 1 of the Indianapolis Coalition for Patient Safety’s patient Visitor Policy beginning Dec. 5.

No visitors under the age of 18 and no visitors with symptoms of influenza will be permitted. Visitors will be required to wear masks and will be limited to two immediate family members as identified by the patient.

Community Health Network, Franciscan Health Indianapolis, Ascension St. Vincent, Indiana University Health and Eskenazi Health are all participating in the temporary visitor restrictions.

Visitors should check with a hospital’s website or call the facility in advance to learn more about specific restrictions and exceptions.

The Marion County Public Health Department offers flu vaccines at its district health offices and the ACTION Health Center by appointment. Flu shots are $20 for adults and kids ages 2-18. It is free for children younger than 2.

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