Flu outbreak causes visitation restrictions at Ardmore's Mercy Hospital

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ARDMORE, Okla. (KXII) -- With the number of flu cases increasing Mercy Hospital in Ardmore is placing a restriction on its visitors who are 12 years old and younger.

Vice President of Medical Affairs, Dr. Pam Kimbrough, says they have seen hundreds of flu cases in Ardmore.

She said 22 flu-related deaths have been reported in the state of Oklahoma.

"I've been in this role for over 7 years and I have never seen the volume like this," Kimbrough said.

Kimbrough says the infection control committee placed the visitation restriction last Friday to help control the spread of the virus and its exposure to others in the hospital.

She says it's the first time the hospital has placed a restriction on visiting children.

"They tend to be more prone to carry the virus and as we all know they may not be quite as good as adults at hand hygiene," Kimbrough said. "(They) tend to get their hands in things and are more likely to spread germs."

Kimbrough says there are a few exceptions -- like kids seeking medical care and kids coming to see newborn siblings.

She says it could be weeks before the restriction is lifted.

Visitors tell us they were not surprised to hear about the restriction.

"They're trying, we are all trying to do the best we can" June Vargas said. "Influenza has always been a deadly disease that people don't think about."

"This is the first time I've heard about the restrictions here at the hospital but I am for whatever we have to do to keep everybody safe and becoming an epidemic," Mark Mclaird said.

Kimbrough advises for everyone to get the flu shot because some protection is better than none.

She also says to sanitize your hands regularly to help stop the spread of respiratory viruses -- including the flu.

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