A decision has been made to allow restricted visiting to most of the wards at Raigmore Hospital this afternoon following a reassessment of the visiting suspension announced yesterday.
Visitors had been asked to stay away in order to prevent further outbreaks of norovirus within the Inverness hospital.
However Wards 7C, at the centre of the outbreak, remains closed and visitors are being asked to not visit these wards unless by prior arrangement with the nurse in charge. Testing has confirmed norovirus on three patients in this ward.
Dr Jonty Mills, consultant microbiologist for NHS Highland, explained that even though ward 7C remains closed due to norovirus and, therefore, closed to visitors, restricted visiting will be now allowed on the rest of the hospital wards.
He said: “I would like to thank everyone for their cooperation and understanding when we suspended all visiting. This was to try, as much as we possibly could, to reduce any further outbreaks of norovirus in the hospital.
“While I am pleased that we have been able to reopen to allow restricted visiting we know norovirus is still in the community. So we would ask that if visiting is required, visitors are limited to two per patient and that if you, or anyone you live with, has had symptoms of diarrhoea and vomiting, you refrain from coming into the hospital until you are clear for 48 hours.”
There is no specific treatment for a norovirus infection and it is not usually necessary to visit a doctor. The best course of action is to stay at home and to drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration.
Iona McGauran, lead nurse for Raigmore Hospital, said: “I would also like to thank the public for their support when we suspended visiting. It was not a decision we took lightly and their understanding is appreciated.
“Visiting remains suspended to our affected ward which helps hospital staff protect the health, privacy and dignity of our patients.
“Hospital staff will of course be very happy to talk to visitors on the phone so they can get updates on how their relatives are.”
The public can help to minimise the spread by following some simple rules:-
• Do not visit a hospital if you or someone you live with has symptoms. If you have a hospital appointment, please get in touch and, where appropriate, your appointment can be rescheduled.
• Wait until you have been clear of symptoms for 48 hours, as you may still be contagious, even if you feel well.
• Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, especially after using the toilet and before eating.
• If you visit someone in hospital, don't sit on their bed and keep the number of visitors to a minimum at any one time. Never touch dressings, drips, or other equipment around the bed.
For more information about hand hygiene visit the Scottish National Hand Hygiene Campaign website www.washyourhandsofthem.com