Lexington hospitals react to flu epidemic, restrict visiting hours

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LEXINGTON, KY - Local Lexington hospitals are taking action to protect their patients and staff from the worsening flu epidemic by restricting visiting hours.

While there are only 40 confirmed cases of the flu in Fayette County, officials at UK HealthCare say that they have anywhere from 30 to 50 patients coming to the emergency department every day with flu-like illnesses.

During a news conference today, officials outlined the measures being taken to limit the spread of the virus in their facilities, including UK Chandler Hospital, Kentucky Children's Hospital, and Good Samaritan Hospital.

The restrictions on visitors include:

- no one under the age of 18
- no one with flu-like symptoms
- no more than two people in a patient's room at any one time
- visitors may be required to wear protective gear, such as medical masks

Additional restrictions may be in place in special units, for women, children, and those in critical care.

WKYT was told that exceptions will be made on a case-by-case basis.

"If we have some compassionate care or different circumstances, we will work with the families to make that happen for them," said Kim Blanton, UK HealthCare interim director for infection prevention and control.

"These temporary measures are designed to help protect patients, visitors and staff from exposure to the flu," said Dr. Bernard Boulanger, chief medical officer for UK HealthCare.

Doctors recommended that everyone over six months of age who hasn't received a flu shot, to be sure to get one. And to practice hygiene 101, such as frequent hand-washing. They say that all it takes is one sneeze to spread the bug, and any public surface could carry remnants of the infection.

WKYT called around to other area hospitals where similar visitation restrictions are in place, including Central Baptist and St. Joesph's in Lexington.

The CDC reports that the flu has reached widespread status in 47 states, including Kentucky.

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