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Public asked to curtail visits to Niagara Health sites if they are not feeling well

Posted Oct 28th, 2009

Niagara, ON: To help prevent the spread of influenza-like-illness, the Niagara Health System (NHS) is requesting that the public not visit hospital inpatients if they themselves are not feeling well. "Altogether, we have more than 900 inpatients and hundreds of outpatients at our sites on any given day," says Tracy Fattore, Regional Director of Risk Management. "We are instituting a number of measures to help limit the spread of influenza-like-illness by reducing the number of people coming into our seven hospital sites."

"We are reminding everyone of our visiting policy, which is not changing at this time," Fattore says. A maximum of two visitors per patient will be enforced across all inpatient units. Close family members and visitors who are within the circle of care for patients are welcome, with the following caveats –

  • visitors are not to come to hospital to visit patients if they’re feeling ill,
  • visitors should not come if they’ve been in contact with someone who has respiratory or flu-like symptoms in the previous week.

"The incubation period for H1N1 is about seven days, so we want hospital visitors to keep that in mind as they decide whether they should come to visit," Fattore explains. "Staff will be asking visitors to leave if they have any respiratory ailments or other obvious symptoms."

Patients who are booked for a Diagnostic Imaging procedure or clinic visit should not attend if they are experiencing flu-like symptoms, such as fever, muscle/joint aches, cough, sore throat. Diagnostic Imaging patients with flu-like symptoms are being asked to call to reschedule their appointment.

"We’re also working with Niagara Region Public Health to open an Assessment Centre for Niagara next week," says NHS President and CEO Debbie Sevenpifer. "Following the lead in other communities, such as Kingston and Burlington, we are setting up an Assessment Centre, specifically for patients presenting with influenza-like-illness." The Assessment Centre will be located in the basement at St. Catharines’ Ontario Street Site in the former ER and is slated to open Monday, November 2nd. Planning is now underway for the centre, including hours of operation and other protocols. Once further details are confirmed, NHS will provide the information to the public including instructions for patients.

In addition to the postponement of some Niagara Health elective surgeries, other changes at NHS sites include hand-washing and H1N1 take-home information stations at all entrances. "We want everyone coming in and out of our sites to wash their hands with soap and water or use the hand sanitizers we have throughout our buildings," Fattore says. "We also want them to take an H1N1 information sheet."

As well, outpatients and visitors will notice magazines, other paper materials and children’s toys have been removed from waiting areas to help prevent the spread of infection. Visitors and outpatients coming for clinic visits may wish to bring their own reading materials.

For more information, contact:

Christine Clark
Chief Communications Officer
905-378-4647, ext. 43111

Niagara Health System