Due to a sharp rise in influenza infections and gastrointestinal illness throughout the area, Redwood Area Hospital in Redwood Falls has announced it is temporarily restricting patient visitors.

Visitors to hospital and same-day surgery patients will be limited to immediate family or designated caregivers and who have no fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting.

The restrictions are part of a multi-step approach to protect vulnerable patients and prevent the spread of illness in our community.

The temporary initiative includes:

• Patients may receive no more than two adult visitors at one time.

• Children under 12 are not permitted to visit the hospital without prior approval from healthcare providers and for special circumstances.

• Visitors are urged to perform hand washing frequently, including when entering and leaving the building. Hand sanitizer dispensers are available throughout the buildings and are effective against influenza virus.

• Anyone with fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting should stay home.

• The emergency room department will seek opportunities to physically segregate potential flu patients when possible.

Visitor restrictions are temporary and will be lifted when it is safe to do so.

To learn more, visit the Redwood Area Hospital Web site at www.redwoodarea.hospital.org.

Additional information about influenza and prevention can be found on the Minnesota Department of Health Web site at www.health.state.mn.us.