Visitor policy updated Oct. 5; No visitors age 12 and under

Due to the widespread outbreak of the H1N1 flu virus in the community, children aged 12 years and under will not be allowed to visit on the inpatient units of UNC Hospitals effective Oct. 5. UNC Hospitals joins a number of hospitals in the area and across the nation in taking this action due to the fact that we are now in a pandemic and the virus is widespread in the school-age population.

Exceptions to this policy may only be made by the charge nurse in consultation with the nurse manager or, on the evening, night and weekends shifts, with the house supervisor covering that area. These exceptions must be considered carefully and should follow our current administrative policy on visiting hours and regulations. 

The policy states that special visiting privileges are considered for terminal care, critical care situations and urgent admissions where the patient and family has not had time to make child care arrangements. Other exceptions may be necessary (eg, mother of pediatric patient is also breast-feeding the sibling of the patient).

When visitors with a child arrive at the front desk, they will be informed that children 12 years and under are not allowed to visit. We are also placing signage at the front entrances to UNC Hospitals, posting information on and distributing flyers to the clinical units.

If visitors insist that they have circumstances which meet the above exceptions, the front desk staff will call the charge nurse on the unit to inquire if the child may visit. Only the charge nurse or nurse caring for the patient may make the decision for the child to come to the unit. 

Once the child arrives on the unit, a nurse must screen the child for signs and symptoms of fever with other upper respiratory symptoms (cough, runny nose, sore throat). The nurse must contact their nurse manager or the house supervisor to further discuss the circumstances and whether the visit is appropriate. If the child has these symptoms, they are to leave the unit with a responsible adult.

If the child is negative for these symptoms, then they are to have a pass placed on the front of their clothing indicating that they have been screened. For patients who are admitted urgently and children came with the patient, the family must be informed that they must make arrangements for the children who are 12 and under to be cared for by someone else as soon as possible. 

The screening visitor passes can still be ordered through Staples. The order number is "Z58UNCHD5989." 

It is imperative that every charge nurse take this responsibility seriously and make every attempt to not permit pediatric visitors. This is to protect our patients, visitors and each other.