Flu precaution: Charlotte hospitals ban visits by children

Starting Thursday, Charlotte-area hospitals will ban visits by children under 18 as a way to reduce the spread of flu to patients.

Hospital officials said they couldn't remember ever making such a blanket restriction on child visits. Until now, children have been included in regular visiting hours.

In a joint statement Monday, Carolinas HealthCare System and Novant Health announced the change and said it will remain in effect until flu cases have significantly declined, probably several months. Even though it's early in the season, health officials say they're seeing flu numbers typical of wintertime peaks.

"We know this change poses an inconvenience to families with patients in area facilities," said Dr. Stephen Wallenhaupt, chief medical officer for Novant, which owns Presbyterian Healthcare. "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."

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