Restricted Visitation During Pertussis Epidemic


​In an effort to protect its most vulnerable patients from an epidemic of pertussis, an illness that can be deadly in infants, PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center will restrict visitation in certain units until the epidemic passes.

All persons entering the Pediatric Unit or Childbirth Center at PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center must be free of pertussis symptoms, such as a runny nose and persistent cough.  

According to the Washington State Department of Health​, the number of confirmed cases of pertussis in the state soared from 134 at this time last year to nearly 1,500 this May. Whatcom County has one the state’s highest rates of the illness, which manifests with a lingering cough.

While people of all ages can suffer with pertussis, which is spread through respiratory droplets, infants are most vulnerable, as they cannot be fully vaccinated for several months.  Newborns are at high risk for complications, including death, if exposed to pertussis.  That is why it is so important to reduce the risk of exposure by restricting visitors who are sick.

Those planning to visit PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center may be asked:

  • if they have any cold symptoms, such as runny nose or a cough or
  • if they have been exposed to anyone who may have pertussis;
  • to leave if they have symptoms of a respiratory infection.

  • For the duration of this epidemic, those with exposure to, or symptoms of, pertussis should not visit the hospital.