Kootenai Medical Center in Coeur d’Alene announced Monday immediate changes to its visitor policy as part of a wider effort to stem the spread of influenza.
Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center and Providence Holy Family Hospital announced similar changes a week ago.
The main change will affect visiting in the pediatrics, birthing center, intensive care, cardiac intensive care and oncology areas.
Visitors to those areas must be immediate family members and at least 18 years old.
Sacred Heart is limiting visiting to immediate adult family members in its intensive care units and birthing center. Holy Family is following Sacred Heart by limiting visiting to immediate adult family members in its critical care units.
Also at KMC, visitors will be asked to check in at nurses’ stations before entering a patient room; if asked, visitors must wear surgical masks; visitors are encouraged to wash their hands or use sanitizer gel before entering or leaving patients’ room; and persons suffering flu-like symptoms should stay away.
KMC is allowing only children who are undergoing treatment to be allowed in patient care areas.
The changes are in response to the worldwide outbreak this year of a fast-spreading variation of the H1N1 influenza virus that causes type-A seasonal flu.
The H1N1 virus is striking people through age 24 rather than older adults, which is the main reason for limiting child visitors, officials said.