Flu cases on the rise in Tri-Cities; Area hospitals to take action for patient safety

JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL) – Some people won’t be able to visit their loved ones in the hospital over the Christmas holiday because of new visitor restrictions announced on Thursday.

Mountain States Health Alliance and Wellmont Health System have asked anyone with flu-like symptoms to not visit the hospital.

They’re also asking anyone under the age of 12-years-old, even with no apparent health problems, to stay away from the patients. The hospitals will provide masks at the entrances of every hospital.

See also: Mountain States, Wellmont restrict hospital visits due to widespread flu

News Channel 11 found out flu concerns aren’t limited to hospitals.

With less than a week away from Christmas, Kelly Roberts, marketing director at the Mall of Johnson City said the crowds aren’t slowing down with last minute Christmas shopping.

“We’re probably looking at about 20,000 people a day coming in and out of the mall,” Roberts said.

However, hospitals in our region said the crowds aren’t slowing down for them either, but that’s due to the drastic increase in flu cases.

“We are asking people, as visitors, if you are having flu-like symptoms, not to come visit our patients,” Jamie Swift, director of infection prevention, said. “We’re asking anyone under the age of 12 not come into our hospitals as visitors right now.”

It’s so widespread that Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine Joseph McLain said he doesn’t think will slow down anytime soon.

“We are expecting a pretty big outbreak after Christmas, just because everybody is going to go off somewhere and come back and probably bring it with them,” McLain said.

So the questions remain, how can you escape the flu this season?

“Washing your hands is extremely important, not touching your face, really encouraging people to be aware and keep your hands away from your face,” Swift said. “If you are sick, stay at home, I know the kids are out of school, but if you are sick, it is really important that we’re staying home.”

With more holiday traffic, Roberts said the employees from the Mall at Johnson City are spending extra time to make sure the mall is a safe environment for everyone who visits.

“We keep this mall as clean as we can possibly clean it. the restrooms are checked every 15 minutes, that both upper and lower levels. we have the hand sanitizers, those are out year-round,” Roberts said.

Doctors said if you think you have the flu, a diagnosis within 48 hours could make you eligible for Tamiflu, a drug that’s been shown to bring relief.

Copyright WJHL 2017. All rights reserved. 

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