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Litchfield hospital announces visitor restrictions

LITCHFIELD -- Meeker Memorial Hospital announced further visitor restrictions Tuesday in an effort to curb the spread of influenza and protect patients, their families and staff.

The new temporary restrictions include:

- No visitors under age 16 in any part of the hospital, including the Family Birthing Center. Only children in need of medical treatment should come to the hospital.

- Only three visitors at a time.

- Visiting hours are limited to 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. for medical and surgical patients; 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3 to 8:30 p.m. for the Family Birthing Center; and 6 to 8 p.m. daily and 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday for the Center for Senior Behavioral Health.

Parents and primary caregivers of children and family members involved with care decisions may come any time and are not considered visitors, but they may be asked to wear a mask while in the hospital.

All individuals entering the hospital must complete a wellness screening before each visit to identify persons who may have flu-like symptoms. Flu-like symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, headache, body aches, vomiting or diarrhea. Individuals who have any flu-like symptoms will be asked not to visit.

Anyone with questions about these restrictions may contact Meeker Memorial Hospital at 320-693-3242.

The Minnesota Department of Health recommends that until vaccine is more widely available, it is important for people to continue to take steps to protect themselves and reduce the spread of influenza:

- Stay home from work or school, and generally avoid going in public, if you are sick. Remain home until 24 hours after your symptoms resolve without the aid of fever-reducing medications.

- If you are an employer, encourage your employees to stay home if they are sick.

- Limit your contact with others who may be ill.

- Cover your nose and mouth with your sleeve when you cough or sneeze.

- Clean your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub solution.

- Clean your hands after shaking hands or having other close contact with other people, before eating or preparing food, or touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

- Make sure to take enough fluids while you're sick.

- If you develop possible flu symptoms and you want to consult your health care provider, call before going in for an office visit. You may not need to go in, and if you do need to be seen, a time should be set up when you will not risk exposing others to influenza in the waiting room.

- People at risk for severe flu or flu complications should contact their health care provider promptly if they develop flu symptoms or have been closely exposed to people with flu symptoms to determine whether they should receive antiviral medication.

- People who develop severe symptoms or who develop new symptoms after initial improvement should seek medical care without delay.

- Get vaccinated for both season and H1N1 novel influenza as soon as vaccine becomes available for you.

- If you do have flu symptoms and want to speak with a nurse about your illness, call your health care provider or the Minnesota FluLine at 866-259-4655.