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Providence lifts flu-related visitor restrictions

Providence Medford Medical Center has lifted precautions it instituted nearly a month ago to lower the risk of spreading influenza.

Visitors 18 and younger, who were temporarily barred from visiting patients in the hospital, are now allowed. A temporary limit of two visitors per patient also has been lifted.

The restrictions were instituted Jan. 23 in response to a higher-than-average incidence of flu cases in Jackson County compared with the state average.

From Jan. 11-17,  about 5.2 percent of visits to emergency rooms in Jackson County stemmed from flu-like illnesses, compared with about 3.9 percent statewide, according to the county. The number was slightly higher in December — 5.3 percent of all visits — when the flu season is believed to have peaked.

In addition to restrictions on visitors, the hospital encouraged staff to wear gowns, masks, gloves and goggles to prevent spread of the virus.

Flu cases have continued to dwindle since January, though recent percentages were not immediately available, said Hillary Brown, Providence public affairs coordinator.

County health officials have said this year's flu vaccine was not as effective as hoped.

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ryanpfeil.