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Phoebe addresses visitation during flu season

AMAERICUS — Phoebe Sumter Medical Center is temporarily imposing visitation restrictions at all its hospitals to protect patients, families, staff members, and the community from unnecessary exposure to influenza and other respiratory viruses.
The temporary visitation guidelines include the following:
• Patient visitation should be limited to care and support of the patient.
• Visiting hours will be 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
• Children under the age of 18 should not visit the hospital.
• Do not visit if you have any signs or symptoms of influenza. (Visit www.phoebeflu.com for more information)
• If you have a fever, cough, body aches, or a sore throat, please postpone your visit until you have been symptom-free for 24 hours.
• Visitors will be required to use hand gel when entering the hospital and will offered the opportunity to wear a mask to minimize the spread of germs.
• Visitors will be required to wear personal protective equipment such as gown, gloves, and a mask if visiting a patient in isolation.
“Our primary concern is the health of our patients, their families, and our staff. Taking these added precautions will help protect against the spread of influenza and other respiratory viruses in the hospital — allowing us to continue to provide the highest level of care to our patients. We apologize for any inconvenience these visitation guidelines may cause. Our team will continue to monitor conditions and remove the restrictions as soon as it is safe to do so,” said Dr. Steve Kitchen, chief medical officer, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital.
Phoebe Sumter is closely monitoring flu prevalence daily and is assessing extending hours at its local Phoebe Primary Care offices to increase access for patients needing same day appointments. Also, as part of our overall effort to improve patient experience and in response to the high patient census occurring, Phoebe Sumter has opened a temporary inpatient unit containing additional private rooms.
While flu season has not yet been severe in Southwest Georgia, activity is picking up around the state. Phoebe is taking these precautionary steps to help minimize the severity of flu season which normally peaks in January or February.
When appropriate and based on availability, flu tests will be administered at Phoebe Physicians Primary Care offices, Urgent Care Clinics, Community Care Clinic and Phoebe Emergency Departments. It is important to note, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend all patients with flu symptoms undergo a flu test. The tests are not always accurate, and testing may simply add costs and time to a patient’s visit.
“Not everyone may be given a flu test. Most people who have flu symptoms are not tested because the results usually do not change how you are treated. A healthcare provider will diagnose a patient with flu based on symptoms and their clinical judgment or they may choose to test the patient, especially if they are at high risk for serious illness that could require hospitalization,” added Kitchen.
Phoebe encourages everyone over the age of six months to receive the flu vaccine to protect themselves and others from influenza. Vaccines are available through your primary care physician, the health department or at most drug stores. If you need a primary care physician, Phoebe Primary Care offices are located across the region. Visit www.choosephoebe.com to find a physician near you and to find out hours of operation at Phoebe locations. You can also visit www.phoebeflu.com for flu prevention tips.