LUMBERTON — Because of an increasing number of influenza cases, Southeastern Regional Medical Center has placed restrictions on visitors.
The restrictions state that no one under the age of 18 is permitted in patient-care areas or in areas above the first floor. Only two immediate family members will be allowed per visit, except in the Emergency Department, where visitation is limited to one relative.
“Some of the patients are sick already so we don’t want to have added exposure because their immune system may be too weak for additional infections,” said Dr. Obiefuna Okoye, the Infection Control Committee chairman at the medical center. “We are advising people to call their hospitalized family members rather than visit at this time to limit the threat of exposure.”
Pastors and clergy who have registered with the Pastoral Care Services Department and have a SRMC clergy badge are allowed to visit patients at the medical center.
Thirty-one cases of influenza were seen at SRMC during November, and that number has swollen to 107 already during December.
Because of the high number of cases, any person with flu-like symptoms, which include muscle aches, fever, headache, sore throat, coughing or vomiting, is urged not to visit patients at the medical center until they have been symptom free for 24 hours.
“The increase in influenza cases so early in the flu season should be considered an early warning for the possibility of a harsher flu season to come,” said Dr. Troy Sterk, a hospitalist at SRMC and member of the Influenza Task Force at the hospital.
“Renewed efforts to increase flu vaccinations should begin now,” Sterk said. “The efforts of the Southeastern Regional Medical Center and the community clinics to vaccinate the staff and the population have met with great success, but our community needs help in vaccinating all those we have yet to see.”
Sterk said the vaccine is the best defense against the flu.
“Please make efforts to get vaccinated today,” he said.
The death of a 12-year-old Robeson County boy earlier this week is being investigated to see if it was related to the flu.