El Camino Hospital in Mountain View has enacted a visitor restriction during the flu season to keep children under the age of 16 from visiting the hospital, a move aimed at limiting the risk of flu from spreading within the hospital.
“It’s something we do pretty much every year when the flu season is particularly bad,” said Carol Kemper, El Camino Hospital’s medical director for infection prevention. “A lot of hospitals in the area do it. It’s not an uncommon thing to do during flu seasons.”
Kemper said that last year was a mild flu season that did not require a visitor restriction. Two years ago, however, a visitor restriction was imposed through the middle of April.
“It is a common-sense approach,” she said. “It is not so much trying to protect children, it is trying to keep children from bringing in winter viruses like the flu into the hospital.”
The restriction is part of El Camino’s multipronged approach to keeping patients safe.
“They are already in the hospital and you don’t want to expose them to the flu unnecessarily. It’s a way of limiting the risk of flu in your hospital,” Kemper said. “We put signage asking that people not come in if they are sick.”
There are other ways to keep the hospital safe from the flu.
“We ask that they keep their hands clean. We have stations that have alcohol, Kleenex boxes and so forth. We also try and keep people out of the hospital who may have the flu already,” she said.
According to Kemper, more and more people think that they can carry on their normal routines when they are sick, even though it puts those around them at risk.
“When I was growing up it was very common practice not to go out if you had a cold or a cough. … Nowadays, I think people have a different sensibility, in part driven by people feeling compelled to work,” she said.
“Some people go out with bad colds and flu bugs. They go to work anyway. And they’re dragging their bugs with them,” said Kemper. “People need to keep their jobs, and their jobs depend on them. When we have an employee who has a documented flu, we ask them not to come to work for a week. That’s an awful lot.”