NEWBURYPORT — Anna Jaques Hospital is tightening its visitor policy in response to one of the worst flu seasons in recent years.
The new policy, which went into effect this week, restricts children under age 18 from visiting patients and limits each patient to only two visitors at any time.
The hospital is also asking visitors who have symptoms of influenza, such as fever, sore throat or cough, or who live with someone who is experiencing those symptoms to not come to see patients.
While some exceptions will be made to allow healthy siblings to visit newborns in the birth center, hospital officials are instituting the measures in hopes of protecting children, patients and their families as well as their employees from being exposed to and spreading the flu virus.
“We are joining hospitals nationwide in taking this step as an added precaution throughout the flu season,” stated a release by the hospital. “Of course, limited exceptions for special circumstance visitations will be made on a case-by-case basis.
“We recognize this may cause an inconvenience for some, but the health and safety of our patients, families and employees must remain our top priority.”
Port Healthcare Center in Newburyport, part of the Whittier Health Network, has similar precautions in place.
Signs are posted in the lobby of the facility on Low Street, and the staff is recommending people under the age of 14 or with weakened or compromised immune systems refrain from visiting patients. Employees who have not received a flu shot are being asked to wear masks while at work.
“We try to keep (the flu) out of buildings as much as possible,” said Alfred Arcidi, director of marketing and communications for the Whittier Health Network.
Anna Jaques Hospital is reporting it has treated 79 cases of the flu this season, with the virus hitting people early and hard this year.