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Young visitors not allowed in hospital with flu outbreak CMC-Northeast says no one under 12 can come in; Rowan Regional hasn’t added limit

SALISBURY — Although Carolinas Medical Center-NorthEast has restricted visitors under the age of 12 due to widespread flu, Rowan Regional Medical Center has not limited visitation yet.
Effective today, Carolinas HealthCare System will not allow visitors under 12 at all of its greater Charlotte area in-patient hospitals, including CMC-NorthEast.
The tighter restrictions are the result of widespread flu cases throughout the region. Previously, restrictions for children under 12 applied only to neonatal and pediatric intensive care units.
Carolinas HealthCare System emergency departments have seen more patients experiencing flu-like symptoms. Comparing the last week in December 2011 to the same week in 2012, the number of such emergency department visits increased from 371 to 1,023.
Rowan Regional Medical Center, like other Novant Health hospitals, is not restricting visitors but continues to monitor visitation guidelines.
“We do not take the decision to restrict or not restrict lightly,” Rowan Regional President Dari Caldwell said. “We do everything we can to protect our patients and their families without a restriction so that they may be with their loved ones while under our care.”
Rowan Regional has protective measures in place such as masking, hand hygiene stations and posted flu information for families and visitors, Caldwell said.
“We also have very high rates of flu vaccination among our employees,” she said. “Those employees who decline the vaccine wear mandatory masks for safety.”
Rowan Regional also is experiencing high volumes of patients with flu-like symptoms and has confirmed 291 cases of flu since Nov. 6.
The hospital currently has beds available. Rowan Regional’s daily bed capacity is 180, with about 160 filled, Caldwell said.
People of any age who are experiencing flu-like symptoms should not visit any hospital. Symptoms include fever, headaches/body aches/pain, cough or sore throat, stuffy or runny nose, chills, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea.
To reduce the odds of getting the flu, experts recommend frequent hand washing with soap or use of an alcohol-based hand sanitizer; not touching eyes, nose or mouth with hands; and getting a flu shot. It’s not too late to be vaccinated against the flu, although the vaccine takes about two weeks to reach full effectiveness.
If experiencing symptoms of the flu, people should stay home to prevent its spread. Flu sufferers should rest, drink fluids and take ibuprofen or acetaminophen to reduce minor pain or fever. 
Other Carolinas HealthCare System hospitals affected by the tighter visitation policy include Carolinas Medical Center, Levine Children’s Hospital, Carolinas Medical Center-Mercy, Carolinas Medical Center-Pineville, Carolinas Medical Center-Union, Carolinas Medical Center-University, Carolinas Medical Center-Lincoln, Carolinas Medical Center-Randolph, Carolinas Rehabilitation, Carolinas Rehabilitation-Mercy, Carolinas Rehabilitation-Mount Holly and Jeff Gordon Children’s Hospital (part of CMC-NorthEast).
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.

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