MATTOON -- Due to the recent viral outbreaks and the onset of the cold, flu and RSV season, Sarah Bush Lincoln has implemented visiting restrictions to all areas of the health center, according to a press release.

Visitation restrictions began Friday, Dec. 29, and run through the end of the flu season, typically in March. For the safety of patients, Sarah Bush Lincoln requests that visitors be healthy with no symptoms of cold, flu or other illnesses. In the Women & Children’s Center, no one under the age of 18 will be permitted to visit unless they are siblings or parents of the patient being visited.

Medical Affairs Vice President Jim Hildebrandt, DO, said, “We’re implementing seasonal restrictions because infants and children are some of the most fragile patients, and our goal is to keep them from contracting contagious viruses which could impact their well being.”

Hildebrandt added that because the health of older adults is often compromised, people who feel ill should refrain from visiting them as well.

Protective health equipment, such as gloves and masks, are available near patient rooms, and hand sanitizer is always available at entrances of each of Sarah Bush Lincoln’s buildings, on patient care floors and inside all patient rooms. Visitors are encouraged to use it to protect themselves and help stop the spread of germs.

Community members can also protect themselves from this season’s flu virus by getting immunized at their doctor’s office or at Prairie Medical Pharmacy at the Health Center.

Ways to protect yourself and others:

  • Cover your cough.
  • Wash your hands with soapy water for at least 15 seconds. Hand sanitizer works well, but soap and water is a better option.
  • Use a paper towel to dry your hands. Air dryers help grow bacteria and spread germs.
  • Clean surfaces in your home and at work, cleaning doorknobs, chair arms, telephones, keyboards, kitchen handles and other items that are often touched.
  • Get vaccinated against the flu.

For more information, go to www.sarahbush.org.

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