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Local hospital flu restrictions aim to protect families with sick children

Posted at 10:14 PM, Feb 07, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-07 23:14:43-05

Local hospitals are taking extra precautions in light of the current flu epidemic.

Froedtert, St. Joseph's and Community Memorial Hospitals are not allowing kids under 12 to visit their birth centers. In addition, Children's Hospital is restricting kids from visiting admitted patients.

These restrictions go into effect Thursday.

Parents are all for added safeguards right now, especially if their children have compromised immune systems. It could mean the difference between life and death.

"This flu epidemic is terrifying for us," said Holly Smith, whose son Nathan has a check-up at Children's Hospital tomorrow. He goes at least once a week.

"He wears a mask, and we're always very careful, but it's nerve-wracking right now," Smith said.

Nathan had a kidney and liver transplant. His liver is barely staying out of rejection. He was back to school for awhile. But the risk of flu sidelined him, so his school set up a live video system for him.

"He goes to school on camera right now," Smith said. "He's able to interact with his class and see them from home."

Still, it can be isolating. That's why it's so nice to have met another family in a similar situation.

Jillian Upton, 5, and her baby sister Lydia, both have a rare, undiagnosed genetic disorder. Their muscles and lungs are very weak, forcing them to rely on a constant source of oxygen and feeding tubes. They are frequent visitors to Children's Hospital.

Their mom, Amanda, respects hospitals for taking stronger action against the flu virus.

"They know they need to do this to keep kids safe which we appreciate," she said. 

But now, Amanda can't help but worry that if one daughter needs to be admitted into the hospital, the other can't come.

"That's just a normal worry as a mom, trying to figure out logistics," she said.

She witnessed that challenge Wednesday at the Ronald McDonald House.

"I saw siblings that typically would have been over at the hospital with their sick sibling, having to stay at the house with a grandparent," she said. "I just feel for those families. It's hard to be separated."

The hospitals and assisting organizations are doing everything they can to make this as easy as possible. 

All children are still welcome at regular clinic appointments.