Western Nebraska Observer - Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First

By Jim Orr 

Widespread Respiratory Illness Serious

Scottsbluff Hospital Limits Visitation; KHS Monitors Situation


January 31, 2019

Regional West Medical Center in Scottsbluff announced Tuesday, Jan. 29, that it was temporarily limiting visitor access due to widespread respiratory illness throughout the region. No visitors under age 18 were to be allowed in the hospital until further notice – unless they were a patient or parent of a patient.

In addition, it was advised that any person with a fever, cough, or other flu-like symptom should not visit the hospital for social reasons.

While no such measures were taken at Kimball Health Service as of Tuesday evening, visitor restrictions were put in place at the Scottsbluff hospital based on public health and Regional West Community Health surveillance that showed a large increase in school absences in Scotts Bluff County last week.

“Visitors play an important role in a patient’s recovery, but promoting the health and well-being of our patients and staff is our highest priority. We’ve seen a rapid increase in the number of patients with respiratory illness in the past week, so we are adjusting the visitation policy to limit unnecessary exposure,” said Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Morgan, MD.

In addition to the medical center restrictions, visitors under age 18 will not be allowed at The Village at Regional West until further notice.

Kimball Health Services was maintaining normal operations and monitoring the health concerns closely.

“So far, we have not limited visitors to Kimball Health Services,” CEO Ken Hunt told The Observer. “While we have seen several respiratory cases, it has not been a steep increase. We are providing masks for any patients that come in with a cold or are feeling sick at all. Naturally, we inform all of our guests who are not feeling well that it’s in our patients’ best interest to limit visits.”

Regional West advised that area residents can take steps to avoid respiratory illness by washing hands frequently, using hand sanitizers, staying home from work or school when sick, and covering coughs appropriately by using a tissue and discarding it or coughing into your elbow instead of hands.

People should also avoid touching their noses, ears, and eyes during cold and flu season.

Regional West said anyone with a cough or fever arriving at its facilities for evaluation and treatment will be given a mask and asked to wear it while in waiting rooms and other public areas.


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