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October 30, 2009
For immediate release

Temporary Changes to Visitor Guidelines at Queen Elizabeth and Prince County Hospitals


Staff and administration at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) and Prince County Hospital (PCH) would like to advise the public of changes to visitor guidelines that come into effect tomorrow – Saturday, October 31 – at both facilities.

“Our patients are our top priority and these temporary changes to visitor guidelines are reflective of the impacts of the H1N1 influenza in the community,” said Rick Adams, Executive Director of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. “We need to ensure that we take the appropriate precautionary steps to protect our patients, staff, physicians and volunteers from the H1N1 virus while they are at the hospital.”

Temporary changes to visitor guidelines include:

• No visitors under the age of 18 years.

• No more than 2 designated visitors per patient may visit during that patient’s stay in hospital.

Patients will be asked to identify two persons to designate as visitors during their stay in hospital. Reducing hospital visits will reduce the risk of influenza-like illness coming into the facilities. Designated visitors who are experiencing influenza-like illness – cough with or without fever, accompanied by either a sore throat, sore muscles, achy joints or extreme fatigue – are asked to refrain from visiting patients at the hospital until they are symptom-free.

Compassionate exceptions will be made to the temporary visitor guidelines on an individual patient basis and will be done in consultation with the patient and their health care team.

“The incidents of individuals under the age of 18 infected with influenza-like illness in our communities is increasing across the province,” said Prince County Hospital Executive Director, Arlene Gallant-Bernard. “A collaborative effort is needed to ensure that these temporary guidelines are followed as a measure to protect the health and safety of patients and visitors, as well as to prevent the spread of influenza.”

In addition to the temporary changes to visitor guidelines, the Queen Elizabeth and Prince County Hospitals are asking individuals who are experiencing influenza-like illness and have scheduled appointments at either hospital to please contact the facility in advance of their appointment to advise them of their symptoms. In an ongoing effort to reduce the spread of influenza, staff will then make the appropriate arrangements with the individual to either reschedule their appointment to a later date or make alternative arrangements for care delivery. Individuals with scheduled hospital appointments are also reminded that, where possible, they may only bring one other person with them to the appointment. The accompanying individual must be 18 years or older as per the new temporary guidelines.

In order to relieve pressures at emergency rooms, the public is reminded that influenza assessment sites have been set up across the province to provide health services to Islanders with influenza-like illness. Persons with influenza-like illness that are also experiencing chest pains and shortness of breath should continue to seek medical attention at an emergency department. Islanders should also continue to seek immediate medical attention at an emergency department for a child if he/she has very fast breathing or trouble breathing, bluish skin colour, is not drinking enough fluids, not waking up or not interacting; or has increased irritability, fever with a rash, or flu-like symptoms that improve and then return with fever and worse cough.

It is extremely important that anyone visiting the hospitals clean their hands before and after visiting a patient’s room, unit, and upon entering and leaving the facilities. Alcohol hand rinse stations are available throughout the hospitals for this purpose.

Media Contact: Amanda Hamel
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