Patient & Visitor Alert: Because flu cases are on the rise, starting February 24, children 12 and younger
will be restricted from visiting hospitals and certain inpatient facilities throughout Carolinas HealthCare System. Learn more.

Carolinas HealthCare System

There are a lot of people sick with the flu in our area right now. Because children are more likely to be sick and not know it, we are not allowing children under 12 to visit patients in our hospitals.

We also ask anyone – no matter how old you are – not to visit patients in our hospitals if you might be sick. Help us protect our patients by not visiting them if you have:

  • Fever
  • Headaches/body aches/pain
  • Cough or sore throat
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Chills, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea.

If there is a special reason a child or someone who might be sick really needs to visit a hospital patient, please check with the patient’s nurse before coming. If you might be sick, but still need to visit, you will be asked to wear a surgical mask.

For more information about the flu, including how to keep from getting it, what to do if you are sick, and when to see a doctor, visit our flu alert page.

The hospitals where this is happening include:

  • Carolinas Medical Center
  • Carolinas Medical Center-Mercy
  • Levine Children’s Hospital
  • Carolinas HealthCare System Pineville
  • Carolinas HealthCare System University
  • Carolinas HealthCare System Anson
  • Carolinas HealthCare System Cleveland
  • Carolinas HealthCare System Kings Mountain
  • Carolinas HealthCare System Lincoln
  • Carolinas HealthCare System NorthEast
  • Carolinas HealthCare System Union
  • Stanly Regional Medical Center
  • 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

Influenza Q&A for Patients and Visitors

Why is there a visitation restriction in place?

At Carolinas HealthCare System, we want to provide you and your loved ones with the best healthcare experience possible. To help ensure your safety and to protect the health and quality care of our patients, we have temporarily tightened our visitation policies due to the higher than normal prevalence of influenza cases in the region. This policy is necessary to help us maintain a safe environment for our patients, employees and visitors.

When will the Carolinas HealthCare System flu visitation policy be lifted?

Carolinas HealthCare System will continue monitoring flu activity in the region and in our hospitals. We realize this policy may be a temporary inconvenience to your family, but we will do everything we can to lift the restriction as soon as it is safe for everyone. In the meantime, we appreciate your patience and support.

Flu Information

What is influenza?

Influenza (or “the flu”) is a respiratory disease caused by influenza viruses. Flu outbreaks are most common during the late fall, winter and early spring.

What are the signs and symptoms of the flu?

Common symptoms of flu include:

  • Fever
  • Headaches and/or body aches/pain
  • Cough or sore throat
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea

Severe flu-related complications, such as pneumonia and respiratory failure, or even death, may occur in certain cases, and the flu may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions. Discuss any medical conditions with your healthcare provider that might put you at higher risk for flu complications.

How does the flu virus spread?

Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing by people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.

Infected people may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to seven or more days after becoming sick. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.

What should I do to keep from getting the flu?

First, and most importantly: get a flu vaccination as soon as it is available.

In addition to being vaccinated, you should also take everyday actions that can help prevent the spread of germs that cause illnesses like influenza. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends following these steps to protect your health:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with warm water and soap for 15-20 seconds, especially after you cough, sneeze, eat, or use the restroom. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
  • Disinfect frequently-touched objects and surfaces – such as doorknobs, desks, keyboards and phones – to help remove germs.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • If you are sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
  • While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
  • Try to stay in good general health: get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food.


What should I do if I get sick?

If you become ill with flu-like symptoms, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people as much as possible to keep from spreading your illness to others. If you are concerned about the severity of your symptoms, contact your healthcare provider. Your provider will determine whether influenza testing or treatment is needed.

If you experience any of the following warning signs, seek emergency medical care immediately.

In children, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Not waking up or not interacting
  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
  • Fever with a rash

In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting

Are there medicines to treat flu?

Yes. Oseltamavir (Tamiflu) or zanamavir (Relenza) are available for treatment of influenza. However, most people with mild cases of the flu do not require antiviral therapy. Antivirals should only be considered for those sick enough to be hospitalized or for those with conditions that put them at risk for more serious complications of influenza (pneumonia, lung disease, weakened immune system, etc.). Your healthcare provider will decide whether or not your illness requires antivirals.

How long can an infected person spread the flu virus to others?

People with influenza should be considered potentially contagious as long as they are symptomatic and possibly for up to seven days following illness onset. Children, especially younger children, may be contagious for longer periods.

How long can viruses live outside the body?

We know that some viruses and bacteria can live for two hours or longer on surfaces like cafeteria tables, doorknobs, light switches and desks. Keeping these commonly-touched surfaces clean and frequent hand washing will help you reduce the chance of getting contamination from these common surfaces.

May a visitor 12 and under wait in the waiting room?

Visitors 12 and under may not visit patients admitted to the hospital. There are a few strict exceptions, e.g. impending death of a parent or other close relative. It is in the best interest of our patients if children do not visit. If there are no other options, visitors 12 and under are allowed in the waiting rooms and cafeteria with a supervised adult.

Are children 12 and under allowed to visit at Levine Children’s Hospital?

It is in the best interest of our patients if children do not visit. If there are no other options, visitors 12 and under will be screened in the Levine Children’s Hospital main lobby for signs and symptoms of respiratory illness. Children permitted to visit will only be allowed in the family waiting rooms, cafeteria and common areas. These children will not be allowed in patient rooms and must be supervised by an adult at all times.