Day 1 of hospital partial ban on patient visitors

By Gene Petriello - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - It's Day 1 of a new move to keep everyone out of the patient care areas of the hospital, to keep sick patients from getting sicker. That is unless you're 18 or older and healthy.

All this in the day of a new era of flu: the deadly swine flu.

"We have not seen any problems or complaints really. Patients understand that this is a special time that requires special procedures and policies," says ER Doctor Scott Hickey.

Of course in some cases, exceptions will be made.

It's really up to a collaborative effort, from the patients on down to the visitors to make sure these rules are enforced.

But, you won't find a hospital staff policing you, asking for your ID, at the door.

"It's not that level of scrutiny. It's really people go near the patient area that need to be treated, the triage nurses are helping our patients and family adopt to it," adds Dr. Hickey.

Those restricted from visiting patient care areas will be allowed in the waiting rooms. This new ban continues through the flu season. During this time, you'll be seeing a lot of people walking around with masks on to protect themselves and others.

Just another way to stop the spread of this deadly disease in an already vulnerable place.

"I think with the partnership with the area hospitals and the community, we can make this policy successful," says Dr. Hickey.

This policy will be in effect until at least March of 2010 and could be extended based on the flu situation. It is in effect at the hospitals in the Richmond/Tri-Cities area.

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