With fewer H1N1 cases in El Paso County, Penrose-St. Francis Health Services no longer restricts children under 18 from visiting patients in the hospital.

The hospital instituted restrictions on visitation during the height of the flu pandemic, in an effort to keep already sick patients from contracting swine flu.

However, health officials still encourage people who are ill – fever, cough, runny nose or sore throat – to stay away from visiting patients in the hospital. They also recommend people with weak immune systems, pregnant women and children under the age of 17 to consider not visiting patients.

“Since the number and severity of H1N1 cases has decreased significantly, both nationally and in Colorado, we felt it was necessary to re-evaluate our position on visitation limits,” said Dr. Jeff Oram-Smith, Penrose-St. Francis chief medical officer. “Health officials warn that there could be another wave of H1N1 flu this season. If that happens, we are prepared to reinstate our visitor restrictions.”