Charge nurse Crystal Westphal and housekeeper Betty Nolan put up a visitor restriction sign on the pediatric unit at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal on Jan. 15. Central Illinois hospitals are lifting their visitor restrictions as the number of flu cases declines in Central Illinois.

BLOOMINGTON — Central Illinois hospitals are lifting their visitor restrictions because of a decline in flu cases.

Most Central Illinois hospitals enacted visitor restrictions during winter because of an increase in seasonal influenza and other upper respiratory illnesses.

Restrictions were intended to stem the spread of flu and included limiting inpatient hospital visitors to people age 18 and older and not allowing people who are sick to visit. In many cases, the restrictions also included limiting the number of visitors per patient to two at a time and requiring hospital staff who were not able to get a flu shot to wear masks while at work.

On Tuesday, at OSF HealthCare St. Joseph Medical Center in Bloomington, Dr. Paul Pedersen, vice president and chief medical officer, decided that visitor and masking restrictions would be lifted on Wednesday, spokeswoman Sherry Galbreath said.

HSHS St. Mary's Hospital in Decatur said Monday that it had lifted its visitor restrictions and mandatory masking.

An HSHS statement said "flu cases are on the decline and are now at a typical level for this time of year. As a result, flu precautions and general hospital-wide restrictions are no longer necessary."

Memorial Health System — which includes Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital in Lincoln, Memorial Medical Center in Springfield, Passavant Area Hospital in Jacksonville and Taylorville Memorial Hospital — also lifted visitor restrictions on Monday.

Hopedale Medical Complex in Hopedale is lifting its restrictions this week, Chief Operating Officer Mark Rossi said.

Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Advocate Eureka Hospital in Eureka, Warner Hospital & Health Services in Clinton and OSF HealthCare Saint James-John W. Albrecht Medical Center in Pontiac also no longer have visitor restrictions.

"At DMH (Decatur Memorial Hospital) and in our region, we are seeing minimal flu activity," spokeswoman Anne Davis said. "Though restrictions have been lifted, we always advise visitors who are feeling ill not to visit patients."

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, the flu season in Illinois peaked in mid-March. So far this flu season in Illinois, 1,240 people have been admitted to hospital intensive care units for flu, and five children have died. The number of adult flu deaths is not tracked statewide.

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Contact Paul Swiech at (309) 820-3275. Follow him on Twitter: @pg_swiech


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