Hospitals Adopt New Procedures to Limit Spread of Measles

Allina Health and Children's Minnesota are implementing special procedures to limit the spread of measles within their facilities.

U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Matthew Lotz

MINNEAPOLIS – Due to the recent measles outbreak, health care providers around the metro area are implementing special procedures to limit the spread of measles.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, as of May 9 there are 50 confirmed cases of measles in the state. As the number of confirmed cases continues to rise, hospitals are looking for ways to curb the spread of the disease.

Allina Health is taking extra precautions in order to limit the spread of measles through their 12 hospitals and more than 90 clinics. In a press release Monday, Allina announced additional restrictions for visitors to all their hospitals and clinics. The restrictions include:

  • Children under the age of five are asked not to visit the hospital, unless seeking medical care. “Compassionate exceptions” will be considered based on patient’s critical condition/prognosis.
  • All children ages 10 and under must wear a mask while in the hospital or an Allina health clinic.
  • Anyone with a cough or sore throat should wear a mask while in the hospital.

This is the first time Allina has put restrictions in place because of measles, Allina spokesperson Gloria O’Connell told Alpha News. O’Connell said the restrictions were necessary to protect their patients, who are often “very sick and vulnerable” to an infectious disease like measles.

“These restrictions are similar to what we do during influenza outbreaks. In fact, we were on the verge of removing the flu restrictions, but because of the current measles outbreak in Minnesota, we decided to extend them with modifications,” O’Connell said.

Allina is not the only hospital extending modified a version of influenza restrictions. Children’s Minnesota has extended their winter visitor restrictions with modifications because of the measles outbreak. No children under the age of five are allowed to visit, and anybody entering a Children’s hospital is asked to wear a mask until cleared by “appropriate staff.”  

Children’s latest attempt to limit the spread of measles comes after a report Alpha News received last week from a family member of an oncology patient that cancer patients at Children’s Minnesota were exposed to measles. The family member, who wished to remain anonymous, told Alpha up to 20 cancer patients were exposed to the infectious disease.

When asked about the exposure, Children’s confirmed a patient with the measles was originally placed on the same floor as the oncology ward. Measles is an airborne disease, requiring negative airflow rooms to limit the spread to others. Since the oncology ward at Children’s is not equipped with negative airflow rooms, the cancer and blood disorder patients on the floor were potentially exposed to measles.

In order to help fight off the virus, cancer patients at Children’s were given an IV immune globulin (IVIG). The cancer patients exposed to measles during the early part of April are now outside of the 7-21 day incubation period for the virus with no measles cases reported.

“The safety of our patients, their families and Children’s Minnesota employees is our number one priority. One of the first two suspected measles cases in this outbreak was initially on a clinical floor that includes our cancer unit. All necessary precautions were put in place immediately, including personal outreach to every family potentially exposed and all appropriate clinical follow up and monitoring,” Children’s told Alpha News. “Measles threatens the entire community, healthy people and sick people. Until we achieve higher vaccination rates in the region, families will continue to be at risk in all areas of our community.”

Alpha News has reached out to Children’s for comment on their new procedure of requiring incoming patients to wear masks. They did not respond prior to publication.

Christine Bauman