Salinas, CA, December 29, 2017 – Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System (SVMHS) is temporarily implementing a change in its visitor policy to better protect patients from the flu virus. The changes will be effective starting today. It is important the public know about these temporary changes to the visitor policy and the reason for the modifications.

Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital (SVMH) has 16 inpatients with influenza diagnosis. In addition, the flu virus is hitting our community hard and many individuals with the virus are showing symptoms of influenza. In an effort to prevent the spread of the virus and to limit the risk to patients, visitors and staff, SVMH is making the following modifications to our visitor policy.

Effective December 29, 2017, the Hospital visitor policy is as follows and is in effect until further notice:

  • Only visitors 14 and older are allowed in patient care areas.
  • Visiting hours are between 9am and 8pm. Visits in patient rooms should be limited to 15 minutes.
  • Visitors with obvious flu symptoms or recently exposed to the flu virus are not allowed in patient care areas.
  • In unique circumstances such as codes, medical emergency situations, comfort or family supporting direct care, exceptions to the temporary guidelines will be discussed in collaboration with the care team and the Administrative Supervisor. If exceptions are granted, masks will be required for all children and for adult visitors with obvious flu symptoms.

Visitor management in the Emergency Department will not change.

SVMHS appreciates the public’s cooperation in adhering to the temporary modifications to the visitor policy. The organization and staff recognize the importance of visitors and their contributions to the healing process. The modification to the policy is implemented to better protect, patients, visitors, and staff from the flu. The change will be reevaluated in January. It is likely the modified visitor policy will be in effect until March when the flu surge is expected to decrease.

Influenza, also known as the flu, is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. Symptoms can include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, and fatigue. Complications from the flu can include pneumonia, bronchitis, and sinus and ear infections. Just this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new estimates that worldwide between 291,000 and 646,00 people die each year from seasonal influenza-related respiratory illnesses.

Getting a flu vaccine is the first and best way to protect you and your family from the flu. While the vaccine for the current influenza viruses has not been as effective as the CDC had hoped, getting the vaccine significantly reduces the risk of infection and can reduce the severity of symptoms. SVMHS partnered with Monterey County Health Department to provide four free community flu clinics this season, immunizing more than 1300 people. We are in discussions with the County to schedule additional free community flu clinics.