Mounting flu cases bring visitor restrictions to Backus

Norwich - Due to a high number of confirmed flu cases, The William W. Backus Hospital health system is enacting temporary visitor restrictions and limiting public use of its facilities beginning today, the hospital announced Thursday afternoon.

This is being done to protect patients, visitors and staff, the hospital said in a news release.

The Backus lab reports nine positive flu tests in the past week, and 14 overall. This is in addition to many Emergency Department patients who had flu-like symptoms but were not tested, the hospital said.

The restrictions - in effect for all Backus locations where there are patients and visitors - include admitting no visitors under the age of 18 and asking people of all ages not to visit the hospital or its offsite locations if they have flu-like symptoms, such as coughing, sore throat or fever.

"This is a very important precaution for us to take in order to keep our patients safe," said Dr. Peter Shea, vice president and chief medical officer. "Hospitalized patients are particularly vulnerable to the flu, and we must protect them at all costs."

Shea added that most patients with flu-like symptoms do not need to visit the Emergency Department. For 90 percent of the population, simply staying home and resting is the best course of action, he said. Only patients with underlying medical conditions or severe symptoms should go to the emergency room, he said.

The public still may obtain flu shots at the Montville and Colchester Backus health centers. Backus and the Uncas Health District are partnering to offer free flu shots to the public. To schedule a vaccination, call (860) 823-1189, ext. 123.

In addition to getting a flu shot, other ways to protect against the flu include: frequent hand washing, covering your mouth when you cough and staying home when sick.

For more information about the current flu season, view a Backus video at www.backushospital.org/multimedia.

Lawrence & Memorial Hospital, meanwhile, has not established any visitor restrictions due to the flu, according to hospital spokesman Mike O'Farrell. O'Farrell could not say whether the hospital has seen any spikes in reports of the flu.

j.benson@theday.com

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