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Hospital to Restrict Visitors Under Age 16 To Help Prevent Spread of Influenza and Reduce Risk to Young Patients and Visitors

Mountain View, CA - October 29, 2009 - Beginning November 2, 2009, and continuing as long as necessary during the H1N1 influenza outbreak, children under the age of 16 will be restricted from visiting patients who are hospitalized at both El Camino Hospital Mountain View and El Camino Hospital Los Gatos. The hospital's Pandemic Flu Plan calls for the implementation of visitor restrictions during outbreaks of contagious respiratory infectious disease at the recommendation of the medical director for infection control and in conjunction with the infection control committee and hospital administration.

"Children are at greater risk for complications of influenza and are more likely to represent a health risk to patients," says Carol Kemper, MD, medical director of infection control. "El Camino Hospital is asking that visitors cooperate with these new guidelines to help prevent the spread of communicable respiratory infections such as influenza."

The new policy will also apply within certain outpatient areas as deemed necessary and appropriate, she continues. If an exception is requested by family members for a visitor under the age of 16, the child is to be cleared by the patient's admitting physician. Such exemptions will be made on a case-by-case basis with the involvement of infection control staff.

Visitors to the hospital may also be asked to wear masks, especially if they have respiratory symptoms such as a cough, sneezing or sniffles.

"Wearing a mask shouldn't have a negative connotation," Dr. Kemper says. "Rather, it should be regarded as a socially acceptable way to protect others."

The best flu prevention tactics involve simple behaviors, such as handwashing, coughing into a tissue or a sleeve and staying at home if you have flu-like symptoms, she adds.