•  Rome Memorial Hospital implements visitor restrictions to protect patients 

    As a result of a significant increase in the number of patients seeking treatment for acute respiratory symptoms, Rome Memorial Hospital has instituted temporary age restrictions on visitors to protect patients.

    Children under the age of 16 are prohibited from visiting the hospital’s inpatient units and its Residential Health Care Facility. Additionally, adults coming to the hospital for testing or treatment are encouraged to make arrangements for their children rather than have them accompany them.

    “Children don’t always alert their caregivers when they are developing symptoms and are also less likely to practice good respiratory hygiene by covering coughs and sneezes and thoroughly washing their hands,” said Director of Infection Prevention LeAnna Grace, RN.

    According to Director of Emergency and Critical Care Services Loretta Myers, RN, BS, 46 adult and pediatric patients presented to the Emergency Department with respiratory symptoms over the weekend, compared to 23 for the same period last year.

    “Currently, we are seeing an increase in the number of children with a history of asthma, who are being referred to the Emergency Department by their pediatricians because of the severity of their symptoms,” Myers said. “The hospital has sent specimens out for testing to determine if the cause is a result of the Enterovirus that has sickened children in more than a dozen states.”

    The respiratory virus known as Enterovirus D68, or EV-D68, is part of the family of viruses that includes the common cold. The virus likely spreads from person to person when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or touches contaminated surfaces, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    EV-D68 can cause mild to severe respiratory illness. Mild symptoms may include fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough, and body and muscle aches. Children who become very ill with EV-D68 infection have wheezing and difficulty breathing.

    Respiratory illnesses can be caused by many different viruses and have similar symptoms. Not all respiratory illnesses occurring now are due to EV-D68. Anyone with respiratory illness should contact their doctor if they are having difficulty breathing, or if their symptoms are getting worse.

    The best defense against the virus is proper hand-washing. You can help protect yourself from respiratory illnesses by following these steps:

    • Wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds;
    • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands;
    • Avoid kissing, hugging, and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick;
    • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick; and
    • Stay out of crowds, and home from work or school, if you feel ill.