Hospitals may limit visits to newborns due to H1N1 flu fears

As the H1N1 virus gathers strength for its encore in October, hospital officials are beginning to prepare for its onslaught. One way they're doing so is by limiting visitors to newborns, who are very vulnerable to this strain of the flu virus. In many cases, while family members 18 years of age or older are allowed to visit, children (who are more likely to have the virus) are being barred from such visits.

In some facilities--such as New Hampshire's Concord Hospital--the policy applies to all infants, a policy administrator chief executive Mike Green describes as a "reluctant decision."

At others, like St. Luke's Hospital in Sioux City, Iowa, administrators are restricting visitors under age 14 from entering the neo-natal intensive care unit, though access to well newborns is unchanged. The hospital is also screening every visitor to the NICU for the presence of the flu.

That being said, these measures will be mostly symbolic if hospitals continue to avoid spending on strong protective measures for their staff. For example, previous research has suggested that few hospitals have invested in the high-quality respirator masks, which would protect staff against picking up the bug themselves.

To learn more about this trend:
- read this UPI piece

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