New Year-Round Visitor Policy Helps Keep Loved Ones Safe

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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.

Brittney Franklin

About the Author: Brittney Franklin

Originally from Virginia, Brittney moved to Cincinnati in 2013 from Washington with her husband and two young daughters. Her three year old daughter has spent over two years battling Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis (HLH), undergoing a bone marrow transplant at Cincinnati Children's. While holding a Bachelor's of Science from James Madison University and working toward a Master's degree, Brittney's main focus is on being a stay at home mother and caring for her children.

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Comments

  1. CCHMC Mom December 09, 15:36
    This is very disheartening to me. We are not ones to be overwhelmed with visitors, but this severely limits my child's ability to see people who mean the most to her while inpatient. I understand being diligent about infection control - we are very careful about who does and does not visit in regards to illness and exposure - but you've just basically restricted any child to his or her parents, grandparents, and siblings. This will easily total the 6 you've restricted for visiting. No friends, no pastoral visitors from a home church, no other parental support people (friends have more than once brought me food, basic necessities, and other items while inpatient. I do not leave my child's room if no other parent is there. You've now restricted my ability to get what I need.) If you have a concern about infection control, I would be more apt to see better hand hygiene from staff and visitors (we ask all our visitors to wash hands upon entry but I KNOW that's not the norm) and better screening of those who want to visit but may be currently ill. This policy sounds great on paper, but is devastating to families who need a support system that may not be the same consistent handful of people. This is one of the first times I've been disappointed in CCHMC.
    • Cincinnati Children's Social Media Team
      We appreciate your feedback. The new policy does make exceptions for community clergy. To discuss your family’s specific situation, contact your social worker. If you have other questions or concerns about the policy in general, our Family Relations team would be happy to speak with you. Contact Family Relations at 513-636-4700 or advocates@cchmc.org.
    • Rather not say January 15, 07:47
      100% agree. This is ridiculous. I can't believe that Children's, of all places, put a policy in place that negatively impacts so many children.
  2. Cara Hume December 09, 18:44
    Who can I provide feedback on this policy to? After just spending 50 days there with my son and being a part of a family centered care team there I have a lot to say about this.
    • Cincinnati Children's Social Media Team
      Thank you for your comment. We have provided it to our Family Relations team. To provide additional feedback, please call 513-636-4700 or email advocates@cchmc.org.
  3. Sally Hayes January 06, 11:03
    I am disappointed in once again making a general policy because of a few. We are frequent visitors to Children's in many different departments as well as many inpatient stays. One of the things that helps my daughter tolerate her stays is the knowledge of being able to have visits from her teachers, coaches and family friends. It helps speed her recovery, makes the time in the hospital not seem as bad. She is going in the hospital in Jan for major surgery and will be devastated by this news. I understand protecting those who have immune issues but please go back to different visitation rules for different parts of the hospital. No every patient is the same