Flu season precautions: Catholic Health announces visitor restrictions

Posted at 10:18 AM, Jan 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-17 11:08:40-05

Catholic Health has announced temporary restrictions for children under the age of 14 to help reduce flu riskfor patients and visitors.

A recent health advisory by the New York State Health Commissioner Howard Zuker warned New Yorkers about the prevalent state of the flu throughout the country. In response to this warning, Catholic Health is taking precautions to reduce the spread of the virus.

The visitor age restriction is effective immediately at all Catholic Health hospitals and skilled nursing facilities. This includes Mercy Hospital of Buffalo, Mount St. Mary's Hospital, Kenmore Mercy Hospital, Sisters of Charity Hospital and its St. Joseph Campus, Father Baker Manor, McAuley Residence, Mercy Skilled Nursing Facility at OLV and St. Catherine Laboure Healthcare Center.

Catholic Health asks anyone experiencing flu-like symptoms to refrain from patients in the hospital or residents in long-term care, regardless of age. Symptoms can include fever, fatigue, body aches, sore throat or respiratory issues.

Catholic Health also reminds the public to follow proper "respiratory etiquette" during the cold and flue season to help reduce the spread of the illness. This includes covering the nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, using tissues and throwing them away after use, and washing hands often with soap and water or using hand sanitizer to reduce contact with germs.

"We strongly encourage people to get a flu shot, wash their hands frequently and if they feel ill, to contact their primary care doctor or clinic, rather than seek treatment for routine flu symptoms in the emergency room," said Catholic Health Infection Prevention and Control physician adviser Kevin Shiley.

The visitor restriction will remain in place until Catholic Health medical professionals determine they are no longer needed for patient and visitor safety.

"We never want to restrict visitors, however our primary concern is to protect the health and safety of our patients, residents, visitors and staff," said Dr. Shiley.