Inova restricts hospital visits over flu fears


A patient and her nurse at Inova Fairfax Hospital in this 2010 file photo. (Dayna Smith/For The Washington Post)
January 15, 2013

With this season’s flu outbreak prompting continuing concern in the Washington area, a Northern Virginia hospital system has announced new measures restricting visits as part of an effort to prevent infection.

The Inova health-care system, which has more than 1,700 beds in Northern Virginia, said it is taking a series of measures aimed at protecting patients, staff and visitors from flu exposure.

These include banning visitors younger than 18, as well as visitors who have “any symptoms of influenza-like illness.”

At Inova Women’s Hospital in Fairfax, the health system said, “all visitors may be screened for flu-like symptoms.”

“We appreciate everyone’s consideration and cooperation as, together, we work to assure the health and safety of our community during this challenging flu season,” said Inova’s chief medical officer, Loring Flint.

Dr. Holly Phillips gives an update on this year's flu season.

Meanwhile, at least one flu-related death has been reported in the Maryland suburbs. A spokeswoman for Frederick Memorial Hospital said an elderly man died of flu complications last week.

Spokeswoman Amanda L. Changuris said no information could be released about the man’s age or where he lived.

Meanwhile, George Washington University, describing the flu season as “in full swing,” said it is holding its final flu clinic on Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m.

Members of the university community who would still like to get a flu shot can get one at the Student Health Service office in the 2100 block of K Street NW, the university said.

It said many pharmacies in the area also can provide the vaccine.

A university statement cited a professor at the GWU medical school as saying that Washington is “in the middle of an active influenza season” that has occurred earlier than usual.

In advice pitched specifically to students living on campus, David Parenti said one way of lowering the risk of catching the flu is to “do your best to avoid those with respiratory illnesses.”

He also recommended hand-washing or frequent use of alcohol-­based hand sanitizers.

Another suggestion, targeted at the typical student behavior patterns, was this: “Get a sufficient amount of sleep.”

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