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Attention: Flu season visitation restrictions

You may have noticed that more people in your community are coming down with the flu this year than last.  In fact, in just the past several  weeks there has been a sharp rise in the number of patients visiting Duke hospitals, clinics and emergency rooms due to this illness.

The flu is easily and most often spread as a result of coughs, sneezes or simply talking.  Believe it or not, a sneeze from one person with the flu can spread up to 20,000 flu germs into the air.  In a situation several years ago, an airplane with a broken air filtering system was delayed on the ground for three hours.   Even though only one passenger out of the 54 on board had the flu, within three days, nearly three out of every four passengers was infected with the flu.

At Duke Medicine, the safety and well-being of our patients, visitors and staff is our highest priority.  That is why we’ve taken several important steps to help prevent the spread of the flu in our hospitals and ensure everyone’s safety during what is proving to be a very busy flu season.  While we realize these temporary steps may result in some inconvenience to family members and other visitors, we appreciate your understanding and support.

The steps put in place include the following:

  • Please limit visitors to two adults per patient at any time.  Limiting the number of visitors per patient will help control the spread of the illness.
  • Please do not bring your children on hospital visits.  Since children are more likely to get sick and spread the flu, our staff will only allow children under the age of 18 to visit patients in special cases—or with prior approval from the patient’s healthcare team.
  • Please wash your hands frequently.  Look for hand-washing stations around the hospital, and use them often.  Please make sure to clean your hands when entering and leaving the hospital either by washing with soap or rubbing your hands together with hand sanitizer.
  • Please do not visit the hospital if you have symptoms of the flu.  Signs of the flu include fever, cough, sneezing, runny nose or sore throat.
  • If you haven’t already, get the flu vaccine.  Getting the simple shot can help increase your chances of staying healthy and avoid getting others sick.

In case you forget some of these steps, don’t worry – our staff will be giving you gentle reminders to make sure we are all doing what we can to keep everyone as healthy as possible.

Together, we can prevent the spread of the flu in our hospitals this season.

Thank you for your cooperation and support.  Please visit dukehealth.org/flu to learn more.