Flu prompts some UP hospitals to restrict visitors

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MARQUETTE, Mich. (AP) — Some hospitals in Michigan's Upper Peninsula have implemented restrictions on visitors to help prevent patients and staff from catching the flu.

Each patient at UP Health System-Marquette is allowed only two visitors and those are limited to the patient's advocate, immediate family member or significant other, The Mining Journal of Marquette reported (http://bit.ly/1vuzuen) Wednesday.

Visitor restrictions also are in place at UP Health System-Portage and OSF St. Francis Hospital & Medical Group in Escanaba.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the proportion of deaths related to the flu in the U.S. has reached the epidemic threshold. The flu is widespread in 36 states, according to the agency.

Flu activity in the United States typically peaks between December and February.

"It is not unusual for us to put visitation restrictions in place during the flu season," said Dave Edwards, a UP Health System-Marquette spokesman. "In fact, we do so more often than not when the winter flu season gets traction."

The hospital also is restricting visitors to its Family Birthing Center to include only labor coaches and grandparents. Only parents are permitted at the neonatal intensive care unit.

Children younger than 14 also aren't allowed in the hospital unless they have medical appointments or are visiting the emergency room.

Children younger than 13 and anyone with flu-like symptoms are not permitted to visit patients at UP Health System-Portage.

OSF St. Francis Hospital & Medical Group in Escanaba is allowing only essential visitors, like a patient's spouse, parents or guardians. Visitation in the facility's nursery is limited to parents and grandparents.

"These restrictions are in place for the safety of our patients and visitors," Community Relations and Development Manager Lanna Scannell said in a news release. "Patients recovering from an illness, accident or surgery are often more susceptible to the spread of germs and infection, which can lead to serious health concerns, as well as prolonged hospital stays and recovery times.

"Delivering mothers and newborns are particularly susceptible to complications."

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