People urged to keep children from visiting hospital

October 07, 2009

Washington County Hospital in Hagerstown is restricting visits by anyone younger than 18 years old in an effort to protect patients, the community and staff members from possibly contracting the flu, according to a press release issued Wednesday.

No children younger than 17 years old will be allowed in the hospital unless they are patients, according to the release.

"Children are a high-risk group for contracting the flu," said Kathy Morrisey, director of infection control at Washington County Hospital. "We don't want children to come to the hospital to visit someone and either give the flu to an already sick patient or to contract the flu themselves while they are here."

The visitor restriction went into effect this week and will continue through the duration of flu season.

Officials at Summit Health, the parent organization of both Chambersburg and Waynesboro hospitals, are urging parents to avoid taking children to those hospitals to visit loved ones.


Because some schools in Franklin County have seen a surge in the number of students with flu-like symptoms, hospital officials are requesting that parents do not take children younger than 18 years old to the hospital to visit loved ones unless they have been given special permission by the patient's doctor.

"This is just a temporary change until this situation passes. We need to limit our patients' exposure to visitors under 18 because of the likelihood that students have interacted with sick classmates and are carrying the flu virus," said Dr. Thomas Anderson, vice president of medical affairs for Summit Health.

Officials also are urging people with flu-like symptoms to carefully consider whether they should seek emergency care.

As the number of people visiting the emergency departments at both hospitals has risen significantly in the past week, officials are concerned about increased risk of spreading the flu.

For most people who have the flu or flu-like symptoms, the best remedy is to stay home, rest and drink plenty of fluids, Anderson said.

To learn more about the H1N1 and seasonal flus, including when to go to the emergency department and when to call the doctor, visit or

Home Care Guidance for the Flu

o You will probably be sick for several days with fever, body aches, and respiratory symptoms.

o Continue to cover your cough and wash your hands often to prevent spreading the flu to others.

o Stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone. (Your fever should be gone without the use of fever-reducing medicine.)

o Stay away from others as much as possible so you don't spread your illness.

o Drink clear fluids (such as water, broth, sports drinks or electrolyte beverages for infants) to avoid becoming dehydrated.

o Take medications (such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen and cough medicine) for symptom relief as needed for fever and pain. These medicines do not need to be taken regularly if your symptoms improve.

o Do not give aspirin or products that contain aspirin to children younger than 18 years old.

o Dishes should be washed in a dishwasher or with hot, soapy water.

o Throw away tissues and other disposable items used by the sick person in the trash. Wash your hands after touching used tissues and similar waste.

o Have everyone in the household wash hands often with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

o Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, because germs spread this way.

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