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Hospitals limit visitors due to flu fears

Posted September 23, 2009

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— Two North Carolina hospital systems have plans to limit visits by young people as a precaution to limit the spread of the H1N1 and seasonal flu viruses.

Young people are at greater risk for the H1N1 strain of the flu, according to Raleigh physician Dr. Allen Mask, because those over the age of 60 may have some resistance built up from earlier exposure in a vaccination or virus.

No one younger than 13 is permitted to visit the Newborn Critical Care Center, the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and the Labor and Delivery Unit at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill, a spokesman said.

The Moses Cone Health System in Greensboro has banned visitors younger than 18 from all facilities, the Greensboro Record & News reported. The hospital put the measures in place because young people are more likely to catch the strain of H1N1 virus that is prevalent this year.

The H1N1 flu strain first identified in April is now responsible for almost all flu cases in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It has caused more than 1 million illnesses so far, though most were mild and not reported.

A vaccine is expected to be available beginning in October, the CDC has said. That vaccine is designated for pregnant women, those who live with or care for children 6 months or younger, health care workers, people aged 6 months through 24 years, and people with chronic health problems or compromised immune systems.


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  • SkepticalGirl Sep 24, 2009

    No, each "occurance" is consecutive days. If you're sick for 3 days in a row, it's one occurance. If you think on day 3 you're better and come back, but you're really still sick and have to leave or call in the next day, that's 2 occurances. For people with kids that get sick, it's an impossible standard. Even without kids, I'm faced with a dilemma if I get sick again. And I will because nurses are exposed daily to everything you can imagine, then some.

  • confusedinnc Sep 24, 2009

    Many hospitals have a limited number of times an employee may call in sick. It amazes me that the people most exposed to germs are the same ones forced to work while they are sick. If hospitals would become more like healthcare facilities, and less like hotels, we would not need this discussion. But in the, "I'm entitled" society hospitals are forced to cater to the inconsiderate,ill informed masses who think they are entitled to visit....no matter what. And challenging them means a nasty letter to the CEO about how "rude" the staff is. Mind boggling..........................

  • whateveryousay Sep 24, 2009


    Wow, that's comforting. 3 per year, is that say if you are ill, and it lasts 3 days long, one per day, or is the one call out, good for the whole time you may be out?

    Who is the Mensa member who came up with that policy?

  • SkepticalGirl Sep 24, 2009

    The hospitals really need to look at their own employee policies. The hospital I work at allows only 3 call-outs a year or you lose your raise or bonus. I've already had my 3, as have most of my co-workers. The hospital has made no allowance for the upcoming flu season, so now it's either work sick or face disciplinary action.

  • whateveryousay Sep 24, 2009

    I am no fan of 'visiting' anyone in a hospital. There are sick people there, duh. Sending flowers, what a nice gesture. However, a little common sense goes a long way, but not many people use it.

    I ride the elevator... alone. I use a tissue to push the buttons, and to open a door handle. I use Purell, before, and after my visit.

    I keep my fingers out of my mouth, nose, ears and eyes.

    I HATE a public bathroom. YUCK! but in the event I have to use one... I touch nothing, paper towels on everything seats, doors, latches the whole shootin' match. If it's not a 'touchless' wash basin, then I walk out, and Purell my hands.

  • howdiditgettothis Sep 23, 2009

    A few years ago, we did not bring our older child to the hospital to visit our new addition. My inlaws thought we were absolute germ-o-phobes.

    We saw no reason why our young child should be at the hospital for a visit, unless it were for a hospice situation, or a long term stay issue.

    A couple years later, a loved one got an MRSA (methicillin-resistant-staph-aureus) infection at some point during a surgery/hospital stay.

    Do you realize they had this ongoing, intermittent MRSA infection for over FOUR YEARS? There are very few antibiotics that can treat that type of infection, as well as difficulty in treating if it is an internal infection.

    I may be a "germ-o-phobe" to some, but I would much rather err on the conservative side of avoiding unnecessary germs and sickness.

    Regarding the bathroom handwashing comment -- some of the bathrooms I have seen are pathetically dirty to begin with - I may choose to avoid handwashing there, and use hand sanitizer in my car.

  • uncpharmgirl Sep 23, 2009

    I work in a small, rural hospital and people never cease to amaze me.They drag children and babies into the hospital all the time to sit in a waiting room most of the time where they let them crawl and play on a floor that is no doubt covered in germs.Reallly?!Now is the best time to implement a "no children" visitation policy and keep it going even when the flu threat has passed!

  • AtALost Sep 23, 2009

    I'm amazed at the flyers reminding people to cover their coughs and wash their hands. The problem is poor parenting and people not speaking up enough/refusing food that's open to the community. I frequently see women leave the restroom without washing their hands. I've challenged a few and they look at me like I have the problem. We all should remind people what it means to have good hygiene and manners. Exposing others to your germs is very rude. Hopefully some of those inconsiderate people read this post (if it makes it past Golo censors).

  • pinball wizard Sep 23, 2009


    It would be very unpopular with visitors, patients and employees. Agreed it would be difficult to implement, but going to a hospital is not a vacation. The program would require intensive education and retraining.

  • confusedinnc Sep 23, 2009

    Pinball wizard... How can hospitals even hope to enforce your suggestions when, in general, people disregard rules that are already in place? It is quite interesting to care for someone while they are chatting away on a cell phone or chasing after a barefoot 2 year old running around the department. In a perfect world, people would be a bit more respectful of healthcare workers and facilities. I agree with your post though and wish more people felt that way.