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updated: 1/11/2013 10:53 PM

Suburban hospitals respond to flu

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In light of the burgeoning flu season, Centegra Health System hospitals in McHenry County are imposing a visitor restriction policy that forbids anyone under age 18 to visit patients.

The policy went into effect Friday at Centegra's hospitals in McHenry and Woodstock, and will be in place "for as long as the flu is around in its current state," said Kim Kubiak, a hospital spokeswoman.

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The policy also means there will be "limited" visitation for significant others in the obstetrics and pediatrics departments, she said.

Both hospitals have experienced increased cases of influenza and flu-related hospitalizations this month.

The policy doesn't effect any other Centegra medical buildings, such as immediate or physician care centers.

It's the second time in recent years Centegra has imposed a visitor restriction policy, following a 2009 restriction on youth visitors due to the outbreak of the H1N1 flu virus. That ban lasted about a month.

It's unclear exactly how long the current restrictions will last, Kubiak said.

Posters were put up in both hospitals alerting visitors to the new rules. They will also be reminded at check-in tables, she said.

Centegra's hospital in McHenry is located at 4201 Medical Center Drive. Its hospital in Woodstock is located at 3701 Doty Road. Daily visiting hours at both locations are 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 to 8 p.m.

The Centegra hospitals aren't the only ones to impose visiting restrictions. Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights is restricting anyone under the age of 12 from visiting patients, according to a message on the hospital's website.

Officials from other suburban hospitals said they weren't imposing mandatory visiting restrictions but were encouraging visitors to stay away if they were experiencing symptoms of flu -- unless of course they needed treatment themselves.

"People with the flu or flu-like symptoms who'd like to visit other patients -- we don't want them to visit," said Keith Hartenberger, a spokesman for Edward Hospital in Naperville. "But do come to Edward if you do need treatment."

Michelle Frothingham, the administrative nurse supervisor at Provena St. Joseph Hospital in Elgin, said the past week "has been just incredibly busy," with at least a dozen patients with flu symptoms coming in every day.

"The main thing," she says, "is wash your hands."

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