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NHRMC bars young visitors to curb flu spread

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Concerns about the spread of the flu has led New Hanover Regional Medical Center to restrict visitors ages 12 and under starting tomorrow.

The hospital says Because children can have the flu and be contagious days before symptoms develop, they will not be allowed to visit or accompany a patient into NHRMC facilities unless the child is a patient. This adds NHRMC to a list of hospitals across the country taking similar steps to combat the flu.

The policy will affect all New Hanover Regional Medical Center inpatient and outpatient locations, including the Betty H. Cameron Women's & Children's Hospital, Surgical Pavilion, Rehabilitation Hospital, Behavioral Health Hospital, Medical Mall, Cape Fear Orthopedic Specialty Hospital, Pender Memorial Hospital, Oleander and Independence Rehabilitation Centers, NHRMC Diagnostic Centers, Nunnelee Pediatric Specialty Clinic, Outpatient Clinics, Atlantic SurgiCenter and Coastal Family Medicine.

Exceptions will be made if the patient is a family member who is critically ill or injured. Such cases must be coordinated with the patient's caregiver.

"We understand how hard this will be for some families who want to have those children visit a new sibling or loved one in the hospital," said Dr. Sam Spicer, NHRMC VP of Medical Affairs. "We wouldn't take this step if it weren’t necessary to control the spread of the virus."

The hospitals are also asking adults not to visit if they're experiencing flu-like symptoms, including a fever with sore throat, coughing, body aches, or headache. Patients who come to the emergency departments or other care areas with those symptoms will be required to wear a mask.

In addition to restricting visitation, NHRMC will suspend programs involving young people in the hospital, including Kangaroo Kapers, a program run by volunteers for boys and girls about to become big brothers and sisters.

For more information on the flu and the visitation policy, visit NHRMC's website.

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