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Hospitals ban visitors under 18 because of swine flu

Beginning Thursday, no visitors under 18 will be allowed inside the majority of Charlotte area hospitals. Officials at Carolinas Healthcare System and Presbyterian HealthCare say the new policy is an attempt to stop the spread of swine flu. WFAE's Julie Rose has more: All Carolinas Medical Center and Presbyterian hospitals from Matthews to Mount Holly will be off-limits to children under the age of 18, unless they are patients themselves. Dr. Thomas Zweng is senior vice president of medical affairs for Presbyterian Healthcare. He says all healthy children will be turned away at the hospital door because of the possibility that they are infected with the virus also known as swine flu. "We know that children - uh young adults - can be carriers of H1N1 yet not be symptomatic for one-to-two days," says Dr. Zweng. "This isn't something we enter into lightly, but we feel it's in the best interest of our inpatients, especially those that are so vulnerable: immuno-suppressed patients, pregnant women and other children." Dr. Zweng says the hospitals will make exceptions in the Emergency Room where a mother may have to bring her other children to deal with a medical crisis. He says end-of-life situations may also merit an exception to the visitation rule. Hospital staff are being trained to assess the need for exceptions. The "no visitors under 18" rule goes into effect on Thursday. Dr. Zweng warns it could be months before the H1N1 virus is no longer a serious threat and the policy is lifted.