Friday, January 10, 2014 - Valley Health Restricts Hospital Visiting Hours
The 2014 influenza season has begun in the Winchester region this week, with increasing numbers of influenza-like illnesses being reported in the Emergency Department and physician offices. There is also increased influenza activity around the state and nation. Thus, Valley Health System’s six hospitals are once again altering visiting policies to limit the risk to patients, visitors and staff.

Beginning Friday, January 10, visitors to all Valley Health hospitals must be at least 18 years old. People with any symptoms of flu-like illness – cough or fever – should refrain from visiting altogether. In addition, visiting hours will be limited to four hours a day, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Facilities affected by the change include Winchester Medical Center, Winchester Rehabilitation Center, Warren Memorial Hospital, Shenandoah Memorial Hospital and Page Memorial Hospital in Virginia, and Hampshire Memorial Hospital and War Memorial Hospital in West Virginia. Visiting restrictions will remain in place until the flu season passes in late winter or early spring.

“Influenza is increasingly present in our community and affected patients are quite ill,” said Nicolas Restrepo, MD, Vice President for Medical Affairs at Winchester Medical Center. “We have already felt the impact at Valley Health, in our hospitals’ Emergency Departments and nursing units. Because individuals can be contagious before they have symptoms, we decided to enact measures to limit exposure.”

Spouses, significant others, parents or adult children who are actively involved in a patient’s care may be exempted from visiting hours limitations. Other exceptions may include patient visitation immediately after surgery, at the end of life, new sibling visits and in other situations, as determined by nursing leadership on a case by case basis.

Family and friends visiting patients at Winchester Medical Center will be required to wear a Visitor ID badge, available at the main entrance to the South Tower. Signs will be posted to direct visitors to the proper entrances. Visitors for patients in the North Tower (ICU, Labor and Delivery, NICU and Observation units) will receive badges from the nursing units. Hand sanitizer and masks are available for visitor use at each hospital.

Valley Health encourages family and friends to use other available methods – phone, email, FaceTime or Skype -- to visit loved ones between morning and evening visiting periods.