CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The flu restrictions that have been in effect for Charlotte-area in-patient hospitals will be lifted on Friday, Atrium Health announced Thursday.
Iredell Memorial Hospital lifted all flu restrictions Friday. Medical officials still advise that patients who are ill and not receiving treatment to avoid visiting the hospital.
In early 2018, Charlotte-area hospitals restricted access for visitors under 12 due to the growing number of flu cases. Officials said the restrictions will be lifted at 7 a.m. on Friday due to a "significant drop in the number of patients being seen with flu-like symptoms."
Novant Health, Cone Health, and Wake Forest Baptist Health are also lifting their hospital restrictions at the same time on Friday "to prevent confusion among the public and avoid a patchwork of varying restrictions," Atrium Health officials said.
Even though officials are seeing a decline in flu-related visits, Atrium Health is asking people who are "experiencing flu-like symptoms to help control the spread of the illness by not visiting patients in the hospital."
Below are hospitals affected by the visitation policy:
- Carolinas Medical Center
- Levine Children’s Hospital
- Carolinas Medical Center-Mercy
- Carolinas HealthCare System NorthEast
- Carolinas HealthCare System Pineville
- Carolinas HealthCare System Union
- Carolinas HealthCare System University
- Carolinas HealthCare System Lincoln
- Carolinas HealthCare System Cleveland
- Carolinas HealthCare System Kings Mountain
- Carolinas HealthCare System Blue Ridge
- Carolinas HealthCare System Stanly
- Carolinas HealthCare System Anson
- Carolinas HealthCare System Behavioral Health-Charlotte
- Carolinas HealthCare System Behavioral Health-Davidson
- Carolinas Rehabilitation-Charlotte
- Carolinas Rehabilitation-NorthEast
- Carolinas Rehabilitation-Mt. Holly
- Carolinas Rehabilitation-Pineville
There has been a total of 305 flu deaths reported in North Carolina for this season.
The flu season started October 1. North Carolina health officials say seven new flu deaths were reported between March 4 and March 10. There has been more than 200 flu deaths in South Carolina.
There are some signs of improvement.
Health officials said nearly three percent of patients are being seen for flu-like illnesses in March compared to around twelve percent of people who were seen regarding the flu in February.
The flu season usually runs through May.
DHEC says the flu shot is the best protection against the flu. The agency is waiving administrative for the flu shot at its public health clinics.
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Multiple flu infections in the same person are rare but not unheard of.
"It would be bad luck but it has happened - based on strains," said Michael Anthony "Tony" Moody, chief medical officer of Duke University's Human Vaccine Institute. "The strains tend not to circulate at the same time. You can catch them back to back to back like that."
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper is urging people to protect themselves against the virus.
"We're in the middle of a nationwide flu epidemic and I'm asking North Carolinians to do their part to stay healthy and stop the flu from spreading," Cooper said in a statement.
Carolinas Healthcare System announced that they changed their name to Atrium Health on Feb. 7. The move came as the healthcare system sought to combine with UNC Health Care, transitioning to a regional healthcare giant.
The company said the name change reflects the system's evolution as it establishes the next generation of care settings. The history of the now Atrium Health dates back to 1940 when the system began as Charlotte Memorial Hospital.