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Bloomington Herald-Times

October 21, 2009

Area hospitals ban visits by children during flu outbreak
By Dann Denny
October 20, 2009, last update: 10/20 @ 7:45 pm

Beginning Thursday, children will not be allowed to visit at Bloomington Hospital because of the growing spread of the flu.

The policy will allow patients to have no more than two healthy adult visitors -- 18 years or older -- at a time. The hospital defines a healthy adult as one who is not experiencing any flu-like symptoms -- such as fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headache, tiredness, body aches, diarrhea or vomiting -- and those who have not been exposed to the flu virus in the last week.

The policy will be in place throughout the flu season.

In Greene County, Greene County General Hospital in Linton announced that due to H1N1 and seasonal flu cases in the area, visitors younger than 18 and pregnant women who are visiting are now prohibited from entering the hospital.

Randy Padgett, the hospital's assistant administrator, said this group has been identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as having the highest risk of contracting the flu.

MORE: HTO's H1N1 flu page

The policy also allows only two visitors at a time in all patient rooms. The new visitation policy will remain in effect until hospital officials deem it safe to rescind.

"The health and safety of our patients, employees, providers and volunteers is of highest priority," said Amanda Roach, spokeswoman at Bloomington Hospital. "Because of the increasing number of flu cases we're seeing in the community, we believe now is the right time to begin restricting visitors to proactively help stop the spread of the virus."

Roach said the threshold for implementing the policy -- more than 30 confirmed cases of influenza in the community in outpatient or inpatient health care settings over the last week -- has been met.

James Ballard, Monroe Hospital's compliance director, said Monroe Hospital has the same visitor restriction policy as Bloomington Hospital, but it has not yet gone into effect because the hospital's threshold -- 30 percent of its inpatient population having confirmed cases of influenza -- has not been met.

"So at this time we have 24-hour, 7-day-a-week open visitation," he said.

Roach said that while the number of flu hospitalizations has been low in Monroe County compared to other Indiana counties, hospital officials have decided that it's best to take precautionary measures now before the situation becomes a crisis.

She said since the beginning of September, Bloomington Hospital has admitted seven patients with a diagnosis of flu, adding that its emergency department is seeing more and more patients each day with flu symptoms.

"The weeks of Sept. 20 and Sept. 27, about 12 percent of the patients coming into our emergency department were there because of flu-like symptoms," says Roach. "The week of Oct. 4, this jumped to 19 percent, and last week (the week of Oct. 11), the number was 21 percent."

Roach is asking for the community to cooperate with the temporary visitation restrictions.

"If you have flu symptoms, please stay home," she said. "You can keep your loved one in the hospital safe, and not spread the flu virus to others by isolating yourself at home if you're sick," she said. "You can keep in touch with your hospitalized loved one in ways other than seeing them in person. Telephone calls, texting, e-mail, social networking sites and sending cards all show you care and are thinking about the person."

More information

The City of Bloomington and the Monroe County government are teaming up to educate residents about H1N1, including providing tips on staying healthy and avoiding the spread of the flu; and providing contact phone numbers for those seeking medical care.

Working in conjunction with the Monroe County Health Department, the City has posted periodic updates and information on upcoming public meetings on its Web site, http://bloomington.in.gov/flu, and is offering a local information hotline, 812-339-H1N1 (4161), that residents can check to receive updates. Much of the same information can be found on the County Health Department web site, http://www.co.monroe.in.us/health.

"The City and the County are doing everything we can to ensure that we get this important information out to as many people in the County as possible," said Bloomington Mayor Mark Kruzan. "The Health Department has done a terrific job of getting us important information, and I encourage everyone to continually check the hotline and web sites for updates."

"The CDC is constantly sending us new information that we'll need to relay to the public, and by working together with the City, we'll be able to quickly get residents everything they need to stay healthy this flu season," said Patrick Stoffers, president of the Monroe County Board of Commissioners.

The City's Web page includes links to various state and federal health agencies, a video on flu prevention and an option to subscribe to text updates from the CDC. Periodic updates will also be available on the City's Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/cityofbloomington, and Twitter feed, http://twitter.com/citybloomington.

Commentary
Preserving nature is everyone's piece of the Nobel pie
By Fritz Lieber
October 21, 2009, last update: 10/20 @ 5:35 pm

After whooping and hollering over IU's Nobel Prize winner, I eventually returned to Earth.

Feet on the ground but head still spinning, I considered our commonwealth. I smiled to think of my great-grandfather, Richard Lieber, who started the state park system in Indiana.

His story and the work of Elinor Ostrom, our Nobel Laureate, share a moral and a challenge.

Richard Lieber, who died in 1944, was inducted last month into the inaugural class of the Indiana Conservation Hall of Fame. I attended the ceremony in Indianapolis and received the award in his name. Also inducted were President Benjamin Harrison, Eli Lilly and Bill and Gayle Cook, among others. I felt a little under-dressed but honored.

When asked to say a few words, I said the award recognized a visionary thinker. I said it paid tribute to my great-grandfather and that I worked hard to be born into his family. If not quite my Nobel moment, it was my 15 minutes of Hall of Fame, even on behalf of a distant relative.

Richard Lieber emigrated to Indiana from Germany in 1891. He arrived with a passion for scenic beauty and natural resources.

Founder and first director of the Indiana Department of Conservation, later the Department of Natural Resources, Lieber purchased land in Indiana for a park system. Inspired by a Parke County woman named Juliet Strauss, he bought his first parcel in 1916, a large tract of old-growth forest, dedicated as Turkey Run State Park.

Lieber instituted user fees. He thought people should pay to enjoy their parks and would appreciate them more by contributing to them. Opposed to the patronage system, he worked to professionalize his department, a stance that eventually cost him his job.

He believed we are all connected, near and far, "that thou canst not stir a flower without troubling a star."

We share a pool of natural resources. Just as important, wilderness civilizes us. Protection of wild nature tames our human nature. We need to get away from people to get along with them. Great spaces and the sweep of an eagle's wing ennoble and humble us.

Regarding the civil environment, I wrote in my last column that the gains of history are not self-sustaining. The same is true for the natural environment.

Government has a responsibility to preserve, but as much and more can be done by individuals. Such was the case for those who followed in the footsteps of my great grandfather.

Lieber bought the Dunes in northern Indiana, but it takes a local group, called Save the Dunes, to protect the protection. Save the Dunes works like nobody's business. Lieber established McCormick's Creek and Brown County state parks, but it takes our own Sycamore Land Trust to preserve and extend the preservation in south central Indiana.

Their personal stake, native knowledge and respect for public treasure make voluntary associations indispensable stewards.

Lone individuals make a difference, too. Campaigns such as Smokey the Bear, Don't Be a Litter Bug and recycling demonstrate what happens when many do a little.

If competitors learn to talk to and trust one another, they can regulate themselves and their markets to conserve resources to benefit all stakeholders. Imagine the added value when participants are natural allies, and allies of nature. The stories of Richard Lieber and Elinor Ostrom prove that people can create transformative partnerships in preservation.

The confluence of cooperation is the affluence of our common stock and shared future.

It remains to be seen whether we have the political will and economic wisdom to cultivate that cooperation for our great-grandchildren's great-grandchildren.

Fritz Lieber is an adjunct professor in the Indiana University School of Education. His column appears every other Wednesday in The Herald-Times. You can reach him at fwlieber@gmail.com.