In a move to limit the spread of flu, the Charlotte area’s major hospitals will restrict visitation for people under age 18.

The change is effective Oct. 1.

In a joint statement Monday, Carolinas HealthCare System and Novant Health said that, except for patients seeking medical care, visitors under 18 will not be permitted in their Charlotte-area facilities. The decision was endorsed by the Mecklenburg County Department of Health, they said.

Affected CHS hospitals include Carolinas Medical Center (CMC) and Levine Children’s Hospital, CMC-Lincoln, CMC-Mercy, CMC-NorthEast, CMC-Pineville, CMC-Randolph, CMC-Union, CMC-University, Carolinas Rehabilitation, Carolinas Rehabilitation-Mount Holly and Anson Community Hospital.

Affected Novant hospitals include Presbyterian Hospital, Presbyterian Hemby Children’s Hospital, Presbyterian Hospital Huntersville, Presbyterian Hospital Matthews, Presbyterian Orthopaedic Hospital and Rowan Regional Medical Center.

Science has shown that children and adolescents are more susceptible to H1N1 flu, commonly called swine flu. They also have a higher incidence of infection than adults and are often contagious before they show symptoms.

“We know this change poses an inconvenience to families with patients in area facilities,” said Dr. Stephen Wallenhaupt, executive vice president and chief medical officer at Novant, “but it is important to make this change effective now to limit the spread and impact of flu. Many patients, particularly newborns, pregnant women and patients with suppressed immune systems, are particularly vulnerable. It is vital that we take every precaution to protect them.”

In addition to limiting visitation by those under 18, the two hospital systems are urging everyone over 18 not to visit hospitals if they have flu-like symptoms, such as sore throat, coughing, body ache or fever greater than 100 degrees. These persons should not go out in public until they are fever-free for at least 24 hours.

Dr. Roger Ray, executive vice president and chief medical officer at CHS, advises everyone to get a seasonal flu shot as soon as possible and an H1N1 shot when they become available. The H1N1 vaccines are currently expected to be available in October.

“We can prevent flu outbreaks or at least delay their onset until more people have had time to get immunized,” said Dr. Ray. “The most important steps are the common sense precautions that have been publicized: Cover your cough. Wash your hands often. If you have flu-like symptoms, avoid contact with other people and stay home.”

For more information on flu and flu-related policies visit:

  • CHS Facebook (Search for Carolinas HealthCare)

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