A recent spike in the number of patients with flu-like symptoms is prompting some area hospitals to consider limiting visitation.
At least four area hospitals reported a noticeable increase in the number of people who are visiting emergency rooms to be treated for suspected influenza.
"We're asking all patients, visitors or community members not to come into the hospital if they are sick," said JoAnn Ventura, spokeswoman for Bellevue Hospital. "If they have visible signs of illness -- coughing, hacking, sneezing, stomach issues, running a temperature -- we're asking them to remain at home and not come into the facility. Especially younger children and school-age children."
Tami Binger, a registered nurse and infection control practitioner at Fisher-Titus Medical Center in Norwalk, said the hospital is seeing more patients with flu-like illnesses heading to the emergency room.
"It's earlier than usual for the seasonal flu, so these cases are being treated as possible H1N1 flu," she said.
Leslie Mortus, spokeswoman for Firelands Regional Medical Center, said in general, people with flu symptoms should call their family physicians, drink fluids and rest.
Workers at Magruder Hospital, Bellevue Hospital, Firelands, Fisher-Titus Medical Center and St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center said additional plans are on the back burner if the number of flu incidents increases. Hospitals may prohibit children 17 years and younger from visiting patients who are in the hospital. The precaution is designed mainly to protect those children from swine flu.
"We do know there are hospitals in the area that are limiting their visitors by age groups," Ventura said. "It may come to that point to do so here."