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Children's Hospital limiting visitors as a precaution

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Sarah Ramsey
/
WVXU

Cincinnati Children's Hospital is putting visitor restrictions in place because of the high number of patients in the hospital with respiratory illnesses. 

A release says all visitors should be healthy – free from fever, cough, colds, or stomach virus symptoms. Children under 14 may only visit siblings and only parents or guardians should visit in critical care areas.  The restrictions are the same as those put in place every winter during flu season.

The hospital says it's working with Ohio health officials to determine if the respiratory illnesses are the EV-D68 strain of the enterovirus strain that has been seen elsewhere.  The release says there are significantly more respiratory patients than the hospital would normally see at this time of year. 

Respiratory patients currently make up about 10 percent of the total patient population.  

Full Release:

What are you doing? Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center is putting visitor restrictions in place effective immediately as a precautionary measure due to the higher than normal number of patients in the hospital with respiratory illnesses. All visitors should be healthy – free from fever, cough, colds, or stomach virus symptoms. Visitation by children less than 14 years of age is limited to siblings only. Non-siblings who are 14 years of age or older and are healthy may visit in the patient’s room. Only parents or guardians should visit in our critical care areas. We will notify the public when the restrictions are lifted. Have you ever put visitor restrictions in place before? Yes. We put visitor restrictions in place at our inpatient campuses each winter when flu season is at its peak (roughly December through February), to protect the children in the medical center and avoid further spread of disease. Why are you doing this? We have a higher number of patients than normal in the medical center with respiratory illnesses, which are easily transmitted. We are taking this precautionary safety measure to avoid spreading respiratory viruses to the many visitors who routinely come to see our patients in the hospital. A number of pediatric hospitals in several states across the U.S. have also put these restrictions in place because they, too, are seeing increases in the number of patients with these respiratory conditions. What are you are seeing, what are the symptoms and how is the virus spread? We are seeing an increase in respiratory viral illnesses. Symptoms can include: coughing, sneezing, wheezing, and in some cases, fever. Children exposed to second-hand smoke, with asthma or other underlying respiratory illnesses, or with compromised immune systems may experience more severe symptoms, such as shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. The disease is spread through close contact with infected people. Are you seeing the EV-D68 strain of the enterovirus at Cincinnati Children’s? We have documented an enterovirus in some patients and are working with Ohio health officials and the CDC to determine if any of these are the EV-D68 strain that has been seen elsewhere. What should parents do if one of their children is experiencing respiratory illness? Most children with viral infections will have relatively minor illness. But, if your child is experiencing a respiratory illness and you are concerned, call your family doctor to determine the proper course of action. You should seek medical care if your child’s illness is severe, for example: if your child has trouble breathing or is breathing faster than normal; or, if he or she is not eating or drinking well and you are concerned about dehydration. Where are the restrictions being put in place? Inpatient campuses at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center’s main campus on Burnet Avenue; the College Hill campus; and the Liberty campus are part of the visitor restrictions. When are the restrictions being put in place and how long will they last? Immediately. We will keep the restrictions in place until we see a significant decrease in the spread of these respiratory viruses. Are you seeing more patients than usual at Cincinnati Children’s? This is a busy hospital on a normal day. But, we are seeing significantly more respiratory patients than we would normally see at this time of year. It’s important to know that the total number of respiratory patients is only about ten percent of our total patient population. Most of our patients are here for other reasons.

In 2005, Maryanne Zeleznik came to 91.7 WVXU from WNKU where she served as News and Public Affairs Director for 20 years. At WVXU she is responsible for all news and public affairs programming, hosts Morning Edition Monday through Friday, and fills in to host Cincinnati Edition. As time allows, she covers daily news, produces local features, and contributes news stories to National Public Radio.