Through Dec. 24, the lights shining on Wesley Children’s Hospital are bright blue to raise awareness of respiratory diseases, such as the flu and pneumonia.
In addition to the blue lights, Wesley Medical Center and Children’s Hospital have enacted a seasonal visitation policy since respiratory illnesses, including the flu and respiratory syncytial virus, have become more common.
The policy, which started Wednesday, states that no person under the age of 12 may visit the neonatal intensive care unit, the pediatric intensive care, the special care nursery or any of the adult intensive care units.
The hospital also requests that those with relatively mild symptoms stay home and treat the symptoms as though you would a seasonal flu.
“Many of the patients in these units have delicate or compromised respiratory systems and we want to limit their exposure to an illness that could compromise their health,” Brett Hartkopp, Wesley Healthcare vice president of quality and infection prevention, said in a release.
Wesley’s emergency department visits have increased over the last few weeks, with a large percentage of patients having flu-like symptoms, the release stated.
The policy’s end date has not yet been released.
Other area hospitals
The Kansas Medical Center in Andover will also not be allowing any children into the intensive care units, said chief information officer Malik Idbeis. The policy will continue through the rest of flu season.
The medical center has not yet seen an increase in flu-like admissions, Idbeis said.
While Via Christi hospitals ask that those under 12 or with flu-like symptoms do not visit any hospital, they do not yet have a seasonal visitation policy in place, the hospital’s house supervisor said. It is not yet known if or when a finalized policy will be enacted.
Increasing flu activity in Kansas
Four flu outbreaks have been confirmed by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment so far in the 2017-18 season: three in Sedgwick County and one in Douglas County. An outbreak consists of two or more reported cases in a specific time or place.
An estimated 5 to 20 percent of people are expected to get the flu this year, depending on the severity of the season, the KDHE said. Flu season in Kansas has likely not peaked.
To help prevent the flu and other respiratory illnesses, Wesley Healthcare recommends the following tips:
▪ Get a flu vaccine
▪ Wash hands frequently
▪ Cover coughs and sneezes — not with your hands
▪ Wipe down often-used surfaces with disinfectant wipes
▪ Stay home when you have flu-like symptoms, and stay hydrated