Mercy Medical Center changing visitor policies due to widespread flu

Mercy's flu visitation policy will remain in effect until further notice

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The flu is everywhere, and its forcing hospitals to change visitation policies.

Springfield’s Mercy Medical Center is joining a growing list of hospitals imposing new restrictions on visitors to decrease the transmission of flu. The hospital has been seeing a record number of very ill patients with flu like symptoms.

The flu kills an estimated 36,000 people every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Mercy Medical Center changes visitation policy after flu-like illness increase

“They’re already in the hospital, they’re already ill,” Dr, Louis Durkin, Chief of Emergency Medicine at Mercy Medical Center, told 22News. “Their immune system in general tends to be suppressed for whatever they’re already in for. So therefore, their already more susceptible to everything, including the flu.”

Noreen Parent of Easthampton, is scheduled for surgery next week, agrees with new policy change.

“My system is going to be weaker, and I would rather not be going home with the chance of having the flu,” Parent told 22News.

The hospital is limiting visitors to two at a time, no visitors under 14-years-old, and people with cold or flu symptoms should stay away from the hospital.

Dr. Durkin told 22News that every flu season, hospitals around the country see deaths related to flu-like illnesses, even at Mercy.

Thirteen children have died from flu-related illnesses this flu season. The flu has been reported in 46 states. The flu shot and frequent hand-washing are your best protections against the virus.

Mercy’s flu visitation policy will remain in effect until further notice.