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Flu concerns prompt Triad area hospitals to limit visitation by those under age 18

For Immediate Release, Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Lexington Memorial Hospital, Wake Forest University/Baptist Medical Center and Novant Health’s Forsyth Medical Center, Medical Park Hospital and Thomasville Medical Center jointly announced changes to their visitation guidelines as a precaution against the spread of influenza, including H1N1, among patients.

Effective Thursday, Oct. 1, officials at Novant Health and Wake Forest University/ Baptist Medical Center are asking North Carolina residents for full support of a change that will restrict visitors who are under the age of 18.  Accordingly, those who are under age 18 will not be permitted to visit patients, including siblings, friends or family members. The restrictions apply to hospital lobbies, waiting areas, classrooms and patient rooms. Additionally, visitation to hospital neonatal intensive care units is restricted to parents and primary caregivers only.

The hospitals’ policies do not apply to children who need emergency care or hospitalization.

Lexington Memorial will implement similar restrictions on Monday, October 5.

The health systems recognize that these actions may cause some disruption to families but emphasize that their first priority is ensuring the safest possible environment for patients and diminishing potential exposure to the flu. Until the flu incidence rate has significantly decreased, these new guidelines will be in effect, based on several factors:

  •  Of all H1N1 flu cases reported in North Carolina, a very high ratio has been in children and young adults up to 24 years of age.  Further, children are often contagious before they show signs of an illness. Allowing this age group to visit in hospital patient areas presents potentially critical risks to patients.
  •  As the 18 and under population has been determined to be more susceptible to H1N1, visiting a hospital significantly increases the child’s risk for contracting flu.

As always, any adult with the following symptoms are asked not to visit the hospital:

  •  Mild flu-like illness
  • Cough, sore throat, head and body aches
  • Fever in the past 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications

 Family and friends who have a loved one in the hospital are encouraged to use Caring Bridge, a free online communication tool that provides personalized web pages and other features. For more information, visit caringbridge.org.

 For more information on flu and flu-related policies:



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