Jackson General asks those with flu symptoms to not visit hospital patients

JACKSON, Tenn. — An increase in flu cases prompted a short term change in the visitation policy at Jackson’s biggest hospital.

Visitors beware. Signs at Jackson-Madison County General Hospital say they will not let people with flu-like symptoms in patient rooms.

“Fever, chills, runny nose, sore throat, vomiting, anything that might be the flu,” West Tennessee Healthcare Vice President Compliance Officer Amy Garner said.

Garner said they are trying to protect patients and the community. “Just stay at home,” she said. “If you have any symptoms at all just assume that it could be the flu.”

West Tennessee Healthcare Chief Medical Officer Dr. Dave Roberts said they saw about 1,000 cases of the flu in December. “We saw more flu cases in December of this year than we saw just about all of the flu season last year,” he said.

Roberts said most of those were seen in the emergency department or in clinics then sent home. He estimated they had to admit between 20 and 40 people with the flu.

Why is this flu season so bad? “It started earlier in the year,” Roberts said. “The vaccine has been less effective than we had hoped for.”

Garner encouraged people to stay inside and practice proper hand hygiene. “We certainly don’t want those germs spread to our vulnerable patients here in the facility,” she said.

Roberts said it is not too late to get a flu shot. “We’ve got now until at least the end of March and sometimes all the way into April when you can still get the flu,” he said.

Garner said they also have masks and hand sanitizer available for people who come to the hospital.