Hospitals relax visitation rules with swine flu declining

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - By Gene Petriello - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Some hospitals in our area are relaxing its restrictions on who can visit patients while they are in the hospital. But, others are keeping the restrictions. The restrictions stem from the spread of the deadly H1N1 infection.

Kids are once again filling up the waiting rooms at some local hospitals, but that doesn't mean the threat of swine flu is gone just yet.

The signs are gone from all Bon Secours and HCA of Virginia hospitals in our area. It's a decision the state health department supports.

"I think it's a relief to families that they are able to have more visitors come to the hospital and for children to visit their parents or loved ones here at the hospital," says Dr. Scott Hickey with HCA of VA.

In just a few days since the big decision, we saw parents taking advantage of the change.

Since the middle of October, only two healthy adults were allowed into these rooms to visit patients in the hospital. That left kids outside and masks were the norm.

But now, the State Health Department is seeing a lower number of swine cases now, than they expected. In fact, at CJW, they've seen a significant drop in swine flu cases since the fall.

A third wave of the deadly illness was anticipated, but has yet to become reality. "Historically, it's been documented that illnesses can have 3 waves so we anticipated it this winter or the early spring," adds Dr. Hickey.

Despite the laxed regulations, the state is still encouraging everyone to get a swine flu shot.

Dr. Hickey agrees. "Absolutely, vaccination is critical and folds should still get vaccinated."

It's that safety issue that is causing VCU medical center to keep it's restricted visitation policy and that policy will stay in effect there until flu season is over.

If the number of swine flu cases increase in the coming weeks and months, then hospitals will make more adjustments to it's policies to protect its patients.

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