Cox Monett Hospital has announced children ages 14 and under are not permitted to visit patients at the hospital until further notice.
The restriction was made as a precaution from spreading the flu virus. According to a hospital statement, children easily and rapidly transmit the virus.
"Restricting their access helps safeguard patients, employees, guests and the children themselves. Thank you for respecting our request to protect our vulnerable patients so we may quickly assist their return to good health," the statement read.
Janell Patton, director of community relations and volunteer services at Cox Monett, provided a series of tips for how to be a good visitor at the hospital.
* To restrict the spread of germs, visitors are urged to either wash hands or use the provided alcohol-based hand sanitizer when entering and leaving patient rooms to avoid bringing in and carrying out germs. Hands should also be cleaning after touching one's eyes, nose or mouth, after using the restroom, before and after eating and drinking, and after coughing or sneezing.
* Visitors are urged to stay home if they are sick or had any ill symptoms within the last three days including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever (or feeling feverish), uncontrolled cough or rash. If the patient being visited is on "isolation precautions," talk to the nurse before entering the room to find out what steps need to be taken, such as wearing a mask or protective clothing.
* Check first before you bring food or send flowers. Such items are not allowed in certain parts of the hospital.
* Don't contribute to the clutter. Limit the patient's personal items.
* Caution should be taken in visiting multiple patients on the same visit. Before going into other rooms. hands should be sanitized.
"We've maintained staffing levels through what we think is the first wave of the flu," Patton said. "We follow the CDC guidelines, and the current guidelines call for healthcare providers who work with severely immuno-suppressed patients to be off for seven days and must have no fever for 24 hours with no use of fever reducing drugs prior to returning to work. Managers fill out 'green sheets on employees who call in sick for tracking purposes.
"The restriction policy will last as long as there is a flu outbreak and we honestly don't know how long that will be," Patton added.
CoxHealth Systems also offers a flu hotline which can be dialed locally at 417-236-2550. Informaiton is available about when to seek help and how to prevent the spread of influenza.