To ensure the safety of our patients, children ages 11 and younger are prohibited from visiting inpatient areas, inpatient waiting rooms and operative waiting rooms at UNC Hospitals. These restrictions were previously in place for the Newborn Critical Care Center (NCCC), Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), and Bone Marrow Transplant Unit (BMTU) at UNC Hospitals.
UNC Hospitals has experienced an increase in the number of cases of viral influenza among our patients. Beginning Monday, Jan. 8, children ages 11 and younger are prohibited from visiting inpatient areas and inpatient waiting rooms at UNC Hospitals.
All staff should familiarize themselves with the visitor restrictions, and educate other staff members and families and visitors of patients on their units and in their areas. The following signs have been shared with Guest Services and also will be posted at the entrances of the hospital:
- English version (11” x 17”)
- English version (8.5” x 11”)
- Spanish version (11” x 17”)
- Spanish version (8.5” x 11”)
FAQs for UNC Hospitals’ employees
- Why are children under 12 unable to come to the hospital during certain times of the year?
Children 11 years old and younger cannot visit when the Flu Alert visitor restrictions are in place because children get sick more often than adults and when children get sick their bodies do not fight off infection as fast as adults. Children with respiratory viruses can spread their illness to others for up to two days before they have any symptoms of being sick. Almost half of children with viral respiratory infections do not have any symptoms, but can still spread the illness.We understand that visitor restrictions present challenges for families and can be difficult for children who have a loved one in the hospital. However, it is important for the safety of all UNC Hospitals patients that children 11 years old or younger not visit inpatient areas and inpatient waiting rooms during these periods. Encourage children who wish to visit to write letters instead, or help them stay connected through Skype or FaceTime.
- What about extreme circumstances?
If there are extreme circumstances during the Flu Alert visitation restriction time period and a patient requires a child 11 years old and younger to visit, any exception must be made by Hospital Epidemiology. During the day, please call 984-974-7500 for an exception and after hours please page the on-call infection preventionist at 123-7427.
- What should you do if you have a fever and either a cough or sore throat?
Per UNC Hospitals’ policy, employees with fever and either cough or sore throat should stay home and not work, even if they have received a flu vaccine.
- All patients with known/suspected influenza should be placed on Droplet Precautions.
- All clinics should screen patients for respiratory symptoms and if present should immediately place a mask on the patient, request that the patient practice hand hygiene and move the patient as rapidly as possible to a private room for evaluation.Hospital Epidemiology recommends that all Outpatient Care Services clinics have a respiratory etiquette “station” in their waiting/reception area. These “stations” should have this sign, surgical masks, tissues, and alcohol-based hand rubs. (Gloves are not a part of a respiratory etiquette station.) A trash can should be close for folks to dispose of contaminated tissues.The CD numbers for the items required for a respiratory etiquette station in your waiting rooms and reception areas are as follows:
- Mask with earloops: Item #050176
- Child size mask with earloops: Item #050471
- Sanitizer Hand Foam Purell Pump (18 oz.): tem #050886
- Regular Facial Tissue Box: Item #000463
- For more background, view this message from Dr. David Weber, MD, MPH, Associate Chief Medical Officer, UNC Hospitals. We will continue to monitor the need to alter these restrictions as flu season progresses. Your assistance with this important patient care issue is greatly appreciated.
- View the weekly Flu Surveillance Reports
- View our Clean In, Clean Out hand hygiene website