Editor’s Note: CLICK HERE to see the full policy and read a list of Frequently Asked Questions.
Protection from illness-causing germs is important for everyone – parents and staff – at Cincinnati Children’s, both during the cold winter months and throughout the year. So, starting December 15, a new, year-round visitor policy is being implemented to help keep patients safe.
Because finding the right balance between allowing visitors and reducing exposure to germs can be tricky, the hospital’s Infection Control team asked the Family Advisory Council (FAC) at both Burnet Campus and Liberty Campus for input and collaboration on the creation of a new, standardized visitor policy. As a member of the FAC, I was pleased to have the opportunity to participate in shaping this policy. Our FAC group is made up of parents and hospital staff who bring many different viewpoints and experiences.
Some FAC members have children who’ve spent a day or two as an inpatient. Other parents, like me, have children who are immune-compromised and have been inpatients for much of their lives.
My husband and I have spent the majority of the last two years at the hospital with our three-year-old daughter who is a patient in the HLH Center of Excellence. She’s had five PICU stays (in Location B) and spent 16 months as an inpatient (in Location A).
Without a standardized policy, parents like us needed to remember the different visitor restrictions for each location depending on the time of the year. We also found it difficult to explain to our daughter why some visitors couldn’t visit her in one area of the hospital, even though those same people may have already been able to visit her with no issue while she was in a different area of the hospital. Many times this created unnecessarily stressful situations for both our family and the clinical staff taking care of our daughter.
By standardizing the visitor policy across the medical center, we hope it will help reduce this kind of confusion and frustration in the future, while lowering the risk of infection to everyone, 24-7-365.
Among other changes, the new hospital-wide policy allows up to four primary care givers (who are parents, legal guardians, spouses or adults who are primary supporters) to have 24-hour access to a child’s room. As many as six others (siblings, family members, or friends) can be added to the patient’s list of visitor’s throughout their stay.
In addition to standardizing these kinds of restrictions, members of the FAC also wanted the new policy to put a greater emphasis on the role of each child’s social worker. If questions, concerns or special circumstances arise during the stay – or if the length of stay exceeds 30 days – parents are encouraged to work with their social worker to make adjustments to who is allowed to visit.
As always, we are asking everyone – especially during this time of year – to be extra diligent about finding ways to be germ-free. If you plan to visit, please be sure you’re healthy and have not been exposed to illness. Wash your hands regularly. And consider other opportunities for interacting with patients, beyond a face-to-face encounter.
For a complete look at all the changes, and a list of Frequently Asked Questions, please read the new Visiting Guidelines.