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St. James implements visitor restriction due to increasing influenza cases

By Jacqueline Gedeon, KTVM Butte Reporter, jgedeon@ktvm.com
Published On: Dec 30 2013 05:32:34 PM MST
Updated On: Dec 30 2013 06:55:12 PM MST
BUTTE, Mont. -

According to the Butte-Silver Bow Health Department, they've found 20 confirmed cases of influenza in the Butte area in the past two weeks.

Assistant Director of Nursing at Butte Care and Rehabilitation Center Amber Dayhuff knows how to spot the first signs of influenza.   

"The runny nose, the cough, the fever and body aches," said Dayhuff. She and the other nurses at the Butte Care and Rehabilitation Center have already given out more than 100 flu vaccines to residents this season.

They closely follow restrictions at other nearby facilities, like St. James.

"When St. James puts up their visitor restriction, we also put up ours," said Dayhuff.

St. James has posted signs at entrances alerting people of the visitor restrictions.

"Children under the age of 18 are not allowed to visit in the hospital," said Dr. Jessie Salisbury. "And people that are consistent with influenza or a bad head cold are asked not to visit."

Salisbury works for St. James and understands the toll the flu virus can take.

"Having taken care of sick children in the hospital and my own kids when they were little with influenza," she said. "I will always get a flu vaccine."

Salisbury told us elderly and very young people are the most susceptible to the virus.

"The rest of us will get uncomfortable sick," said Salisbury. "Whereas older people and small babies could get very ill, end up hospitalized and potentially die from it."

She said the best advice she can give for protecting yourself and your family is to get vaccinated and practice good hygiene.

"We strongly encourage people to wash hands," she said. "Use hand sanitizer, both in the hospital and at home to decrease the spread."

At the Butte Care and Rehabilitation Center, Dayhuff told us the most important thing during the flu season is protecting their patients.

"They already have so many complications in their health, adding the flu may push them over the edge."

Influenza has been confirmed in 17 of Montana's 56 counties.

Bozeman Deaconess Hospital implemented similar restrictions earlier this month.