LUMBERTON — The rising number of flu cases has prompted Southeastern Regional Medical Center to impose visitation restrictions.
The visitation restrictions allow for two visitors, 18 years or older, per patient except in the Emergency Department, where only one visitor will be allowed per patient, according to information released by SRMC. Any clergyman who has registered with Pastoral Care Services and has an SRMC clergy badge will be allowed to visit. Some areas, such as ICU, may have a stricter policy as part of their normal operations. Exceptions will be made only in extreme medical circumstances.
“Any individual with flu-like symptoms, including muscle aches, fever, headache, sore throat, coughing or vomiting, is asked not to visit patients at SRMC until they have been symptom-free for 24 hours,” Amanda Crabtree, Southeastern Health’s Public Relations coordinator, said in a statement. “All visitors are reminded to wash hands before entering a patient room or interacting with a patient. Please note that general visiting hours are from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.”
The restrictions will be in effect until flu season starts to taper off, Crabtree said. The last time the hospital imposed visitation restrictions because of the flu was in January 2016.
“Flu season is here and we are seeing an increase in visits to our primary clinics, urgent care clinics and the ER. The peak typically comes in February,” said Dr. Joseph Roberts, Southeastern Health vice president of Clinical Effectiveness and Medical Affairs. “The hospital from now through February will have many patients with a flu diagnosis. It is important to restrict visitation for protection of visitors as well as protecting our patients from visitors with flu.”
The visitation policy is designed to protect vulnerable patients from contamination by visitors who may have the flu, said Dr. John Reed, medical director of Emergency Medicine at Southeastern Health. The policy also will protect visitors from patients who have the flu.
“It’s a bad flu season,” Reed said. “The vaccine did not provide as much protection as in past years.”
Twenty North Carolinians have died because of the flu since the flu season started in October, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services. The state Department of Health and Human Services. website does not break down the number or deaths or flu cases by county.
The typical flu season lasts October through May. State Department of Health and Human Services officials urge residents to get a flu vaccine because it is the most effective way to prevent contracting the contagious respiratory illness.
“If friends or loved ones wish to contact individuals while a patient at Southeastern Regional Medical Center, they are encouraged to call or send cards or letters,” the SRMC release reads in part.
Most patients may be reached by calling 910-671-5000 and asking for the patient by name, according to the SRMC. Letters may be addressed to Southeastern Health, patient’s name, room number, P.O, Box 1408, Lumberton, N.C., 28359.
Individuals who feel they may be sick and need to seek non-emergency medical care may visit a Southeastern Health primary care or walk-in clinic. The walk-in clinics include: Southeastern Health Mall Clinic, on the campus of Biggs Park Mall; The Clinic at Walmart; The Clinic at Lumberton Drug; and Southeastern Urgent Care Pembroke. For a complete clinic listing with hours and phone numbers, log on to www.southeasternhealth.org.
Reach T.C. Hunter by calling 910-816-1974 or via email at [email protected]