By Robert Marin & Samantha Anderson
KWCH 12 Eyewitness News
3:33 PM CST, January 10, 2013
The Salina Regional Health Center is restricting visitors because of the high number of flu cases this year.
"We've seen flu a little bit earlier and it seems to be a little bit worse by the numbers," said emergency medical physican Jeremiah Ostmeyer.
This week the hospital requested that visitors be limited to just close family and clergy.
"Those are the individuals, that is their loved one," said infection preventionist Bethanie McDowell. "They are the ones that need to see that patient. Friends and family, although they are very close to that individual, for the safety of that patient and for them it is best they stay away."
No children under 12 are allowed as visitors because of the number of flu cases in that age group.
"They are exposed to so many germs because they go to day care and they got to school, McDowell said. "Kids don't have the understanding of what good hand hygiene is or what good cough etiquette would be. So by them wiping their nose and going up and giving grandma or grandpa a hug or kiss or coughing right in their face, it can be dangerous to that patient."
Hospital officials say, if you are feeling sick or have any signs or symptoms of flu, do not visit patients. Those symptoms include cough, runny nose, fever, sore throat, muscle aches and fatigue. Any visitor that has those symptoms will be given a mask and asked to leave.
This is the first time since th H1N1 outbreak in 2009 that the hospital has placed special restrictions on guests.
Hospital officials say they will continue to evaluate the situation and life the restrictions when illnesses subside.
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