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Hospitals Restricting Visitation As Flu Activity Grows In San Diego

A welcome sign greets visitors and patients at UC San Diego Health medical fa...

Photo by Tarryn Mento

Above: A welcome sign greets visitors and patients at UC San Diego Health medical facility in Hillcrest, Jan. 10, 2020.

Visitors to UC San Diego medical facility in Hillcrest are greeted with a warning: kids under 12 aren’t allowed.

The policy is an attempt to keep vulnerable patients safe amid the region's growing flu activity. County officials and hospitals are on high alert as the severity and number of illnesses increased this week.

Listen to this story by Tarryn Mento.

Dr. Francesca Torriani, UCSD Health's director of infection prevention, said the restrictions on young children can reduce the risk of spreading the virus to immunocompromised patients.

"We know that small children are less able to control their coughs and sneezes and if they visit they may be incubating influenza," Torriani said.

Eleven people have died from the flu countywide this season and all had underlying medical conditions. Hospitals across the region have similar visitation restrictions in place to prevent infections.

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Torriani said exceptions to the UCSD policy can be made, but it has been in place since flu activity picked up before the holidays and this week its continuing to grow. The health system recently experienced a jump in patients and hospitalizations.

"Suggesting there is more severe disease around," Torriani said.

San Diego County's Dr. Eric McDonald, medical director for the epidemiology and immunization services branch, said in an email UCSD's report is "very consistent with our county-wide surveillance, increased activity this week compared to last."

The county on Tuesday triggered enhanced flu surveillance and communication to stay ahead of any surge in patients.

Scripps Health, which experienced more hospitalizations from the flu this week, is also limiting visitors. Only two are allowed at a time — and only four in a day — and kids under 15 aren't allowed unless they're a patient.

Kaiser Permanente saw an increase in positive flu tests this week. It's policy allows only two visitors at a time who are over 14 in the maternal child health areas of its facilities. Sharp locations are keeping children age 12 and under from visiting but may implement additional restrictions next week. At Rady Children's Hospital, only a parent or a caregiver is allowed to visit.

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Photo of Tarryn Mento

Tarryn Mento
Health Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksThe health beat is about more than just illness, medicine and hospitals. I examine what impacts the wellness of humans and their communities.

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