February 14, 2018
In response to the heightened prevalence of influenza and other respiratory illness in the community, St. Peter’s Health is elevating visitation restrictions at the hospital to protect patients and prevent the spread of the flu.
In January, St. Peter’s Health instituted visitation restrictions for children under the age of 12 and anyone exhibiting flu-like symptoms, including fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose or congestion. These restrictions remain in place for individuals visiting patients, employees or attending events and training at the hospital.
In response to increasing flu activity, St. Peter's Health is now asking visitors to check in at nurses’ stations if they are visiting a patient. At the nurses’ station, they will be informed if the patient they are visiting is flu-positive, post-pneumonia or exhibiting flu-like symptoms. If the patient falls into any of the identified categories, the visitor will be asked to don a mask and wash hands before and after visiting the patient. All visitors will be asked to sanitize their hands before and after visiting all patients. "Our goal is to protect our patients, many of whom are already immunocompromised," said Dr. Shelly Harkins, St. Peter's Health Chief Medical Officer. "By requesting all visitors engage in appropriate hand hygiene and requiring those visiting patients with respiratory illness take extra precautions, we can help prevent the spread of influenza in the hospital and community."
The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) defines flu activity in Montana as widespread. As of February 3, there have been 4,269 cases, 487 hospitalizations and 24 deaths reported since the beginning of the season in Montana. As of February 4, St. Peter’s Health laboratory has confirmed 315 cases of influenza in the hospital and clinics. 68 of these confirmed cases (21.6%) were children 12 and under.
St. Peter’s Health encourages anyone experiencing flu-like symptoms to visit their primary care provider, an urgent care location, the St. Peter’s Health Flu Clinic or the emergency department. The sooner flu-positive patients receive treatment, the better. Early treatment can help reduce the severity and duration of the illness as well as mitigate its spread.
Community members are encouraged to express well wishes to patients by phone or card instead of making personal visits, or through email via this website address: https://www.sphealth.org/MessageAPatient.
To learn more about influenza, including prevention tips visit www.cdc.gov/flu.
St. Peter’s Health
St. Peter’s Health is a system of health care services including a 123-bed acute care hospital, physician clinics, cancer treatment center, behavioral health unit, urgent care clinics, home health and hospice care, dialysis center and ambulance services. St. Peter’s Health serves the Helena region and southwest Montana counties of Lewis and Clark, Broadwater, Jefferson, Meagher and Powell, with a combined population of approximately 97,000 residents. The mission of St. Peter’s Health is to partner with patients and the community to provide exceptional and compassionate health care. For more information, visit sphealth.org.