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UChicago Medical Center restricts visitors due to early spike in flu cases

The University of Chicago Medical Center began restricting children and anyone with flu symptoms from visiting Wednesday after seeing an early spike in flu cases, according to a Chicago Sun-Times report.

The hospital has restricted visitation during every flu season since 2011, but this is the first time it restricted visitations this early, said Allison Bartlett, MD, assistant professor of pediatric infectious disease at UChicago Medicine.

Restrictions usually take effect after Jan. 1, but the timing is based on when the hospital reaches its "threshold for influenza activity," Dr. Bartlett said. The hospital bases the threshold on how many patients with flu symptoms are kept in the hospital overnight. "Once we have more than a handful of patients admitted for the flu, we make a judgment call that triggers our decision," Dr. Bartlett said.

Twenty-two Chicago residents have been hospitalized for flu symptoms in the intensive care units of several hospitals since October, said Julie Morita, MD, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health.

The number of reported flu cases has spiked in Chicago during the last few weeks, and "people's risk for influenza is definitely increasing," Dr. Morita said.

More articles on patient flow: 
Children's of Michigan restricts child visitors
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8 recent hospital ward, unit closures and service terminations

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