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'Dramatic' Spike In Flu Cases Prompts New Visitor Rules At UK

AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

New patient visitation rules are in effect at UK HealthCare following a marked uptick in flu activity. 

Family and friends planning to visit patients at the school's network of hospitals – University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital Kentucky's Children's Hospital, UK Good Samaritan, and Eastern State Hospital – in the coming days will encounter new restrictions. Citing a steep increase in flu cases, the facilities are taking extra steps to halt the spread of the illness. 

"We ask that no visitor come in and visit a patient that has flu-like symptoms, and that we limit two visitors in a patient's room at a time," says Kimberly Blanton, nursing operations administrator for infection prevention and control.

The hospitals are also barring visitors under the age of 12, with exceptions in the Bone Marrow Transplant unit and the NICU. Visitors may also be instructed to wear masks or other protective clothing.

The precautions come in response to a rapid upswing in confirmed flu cases at UK.

"We've seen 96 cases of confirmed influenza in one week alone," Dr. Derek Forster explains. "That's astronomical. That's a major increasein the number of cases that we've been tracking and monitoring. That actually doubles the number of cases we had for the whole flu season, which we say typically begins on October 1st." 

Although the speed has caught the attention of local healthcare providers, the medical director for infection prevention and control notes that physicians expect a period where flu cases spike every year. This round, Forster says, has been "more enhanced." 

Despite the jump, the number of flu cases remains lower than the same time last year.

Below is a full list of the new visitation rules at UK HealthCare. 

  • No visitors under the age of 12 (except in Bone Marrow Transplant where no visitors under the age of 18 are permitted).
  • No visitors with any symptoms of flu-like illness.
  • Only two visitors will be permitted in a patient’s room at one time.
  • Visitors may be issued masks or other protective clothing for use when visiting.
  • Additional restrictions may be in place in special care units such as women's and children’s units, critical care and oncology units.
  • Compassionate visitation exceptions will be made on a case-by-case basis.
Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.
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