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Charlotte hospitals lift swine flu visitor ban

As of today, visitors under the age of 18 are once again welcome at Charlotte's major hospitals. Novant Health and Carolinas HealthCare System have lifted a visitation ban prompted by the swine flu pandemic. The H1N1 flu pandemic has started to feel like a distant memory. Back in September, hospital emergency rooms were overwhelmed, people were clamoring for the vaccine and 6 percent of patients in North Carolina had the swine flu. For weeks now, that percentage has held steady at about one percent. But Charlotte's major hospitals have been slow to relax the restrictions on visitors put in place because of the H1N1 outbreak. "One thing we didn't want to do was change the visitation policy prematurely, lift it and then see a 3rd wave come along and have to reinstate it," says Presbyterian Hospital senior vice president Dr. Thomas Zweng. Presbyterian and Carolinas Medical Centers implemented one of the most comprehensive swine flu visitor policies in the state last September and kept it in effect longer than most. Now Zweng says hospital officials are finally comfortable allowing kids to visit again because swine flu cases are so low and a vast number of children have already had H1N1, which makes them immune to getting the same flu strain second time. However, Zweng says hospital administrators are monitoring flu cases weekly and will reinstate the ban if a third wave of swine flu does arrive.