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Hospitals restricting visitors to maternity wards

By Alex Cabrero  |  Posted Sep 30th, 2009 @ 9:59pm


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OGDEN -- Some Utah hospitals have decided the risks of the H1N1 virus aren't worth it to patients and are now restricting visitor access to newborn departments.

McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden, Ogden Regional Medical Center and Davis Hospital and Medical Center are among the first in Utah to make this decision.

The policy goes into effect Thursday morning. It's mainly for children under 14 years old and anyone who is sick. Hospital administrators have decided if you're in that group, they're not going to let you into the maternity ward.

Jennifer Jensen and her husband have been through the adventure of delivering a baby before. This time, though, they don't know if they're having a boy or a girl.

"We don't know. We're going to be surprised," Jennifer said.

One surprise she doesn't want, though, is to later find out she or her newborn has the H1N1 virus. That's why McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden decided to not allow certain people into her room to visit her.

Chief Medical Officer Richard Arbogast said, "We're being real careful about pregnant women and newborn babies."

That's because newborns and pregnant women have a higher risk of getting the H1N1 flu. So, starting Thursday morning, maternity ward visitors will be restricted. No one under the age of 14 or who is sick will be allowed.

If patients going to the hospital are sick, they're being asked to request a mask. Hospital staff also wants all visitors to constantly wash their hands and to cover coughs and sneezes.

"As a hospital, we're trying to do our part both to prevent the spread and the care of the people who may acquire the flu," Arbogast said.

That's good news for Jensen, who says family members who want to visit her understand the restrictions.

"It's not a very big sacrifice for the families, for the safety of the moms and babies. I'm happy they made that decision," she said.

Her husband is glad too. He likes seeing all the warning signs and hand sanitizer stations in the hallways. He thinks the new restrictions will make everyone safer.

"A birth of a child is an exciting time, but I think we ought to do everything we can to keep newborns and moms healthy," he said.

As for how long this restriction will be in effect, hospital administrators say they'll keep it going at least through the flu season. Most years, that means into March.

Other hospitals restricting access to their respective women's and children's departments are:

  • Intermountain Medical Center
  • LDS Hospital
  • Alta View Hospital

E-mail: acabrero@ksl.com

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