By Cherlene Richards
Published: September 25, 2009, 4:50 PM
The increased threat of the H1N1 virus has some hospitals taking a closer look at their visitor policies.
Saint Luke's in Sioux City is one of the first to make a change. Children must be 14-or older and a direct relative to visit a newborn baby. A couple of Des Moines hospitals are considering similar rules. Rapid City Regional officials say they too will limit visitors if needed.
But what can you expect when visiting friends and family members in the Sioux Falls area?
If you have a fever, chills, cough or sore throat, Sanford Health says it's best that you stay home. But if you must to visit a loved one in the hospital, they're making some exceptions.
Weighing in at seven pounds, four ounces, Daniel Robert Richardson is one handful Grandma Cathy is happy to hold onto.
"I have five grandchildren, and everyone has been this exciting,” Cathy Richardson said.
And like any good grandparent, she's concerned about germs getting to this little guy.
"I worry that the more exposure he has, his chances of getting something are increased greatly,” Richardson said.
But, she's reassured knowing that the hospital is getting the word out about the flu.
That's because as soon as she walked inside, she and other visitors were met with a sign, clearly asking people to stay home if they're sick or feeling any of the flu-like symptoms. Other signs tell visitors that if they are sick, they must wear a mask.
In areas of the hospital that house high-risk patients, like newborn babies, people go through additional screening before they're allowed on the floor.
"If it's not necessary for them to be there, and they let us know that they're not feeling well, they will be asked to delay their visit,” Dr. Lisa Docken said.
Precautions that healthy visitors hope others abide by for the sake of their loved ones.
"Don't come if your sick. If you've been out shopping, use a sanitizer. It's sitting all over in the hospital,” Richardson said.
Sanford Health's main message to visitors: if the patient doesn't need you there, it's best to not to visit the hospital. And like hospitals around the country, depending on the flu season, the rules could change at any time.
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