11/17/17

Visitor limitations help keep patients healthy, protect the vulnerable

As the 2017 RSV and flu season begins, Carle is limiting visitors to women’s and children’s areas as it does each year to keep the smallest patients and new mothers healthy.

“I think it's important to limit contact with NICU babies to keep them safe. Many of the babies in the NICU are struggling every day to survive, and they won't be able to fight off the viruses people can track in,” said Tammy Stow, NICU parent.

Her daughter Sophia was born a year ago at 24 weeks and two days, weighing just 1 pound, 4 ounces. Babies under the age of 6 months aren't able to get vaccines against things like the flu. These viruses can be extremely harmful to already-healthy children and can especially pose a risk to the smallest patients with compromised immune systems.

The Stow family favors the extra steps and caution adding that it takes just a few seconds to complete  brief wellness screening daily prior to entering these units, which may include taking the visitor’s temperature.

Anyone with signs and symptoms of illness or with recent exposure to illness cannot visit. Visitors will be screened daily for diarrhea, vomiting, fever, sore throat, cough, runny nose, cold, respiratory illness, rash and wound infection.

Signs will prompt visitors to stop at the desk for their screening. The screening will take no longer than one minute. Those who pass are given a dated sticker valid for one day.

“We’re doing this proactively to help keep women, children and babies healthy,” said Pamela Unger, MSN, MSHA, RN, Women’s and Children’s Services director.

A healthy now 1 year old is exactly what the Stow’s hoped for this season.

“It took a lot to get here, and even though it's hard sometimes, like when she's really sick, it's a blessing to get to watch her grow. You realize what you're able to handle when you have a kid, I think—much more than you ever thought you could. We feel extremely blessed to have our little girl,” she said.

Restrictions begin Monday, November 20 in Inpatient Pediatrics, Labor & Delivery (postpartum), and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

In Labor & Delivery and Postpartum inpatient areas:

  • All visitors must be healthy with no symptoms of cold, flu or other illness.
  • Visitors will be screened daily. Those who pass the health screening will receive a dated sticker valid for one day.
  • Five designated adult support people are allowed, and they must wear armbands.
  • Adult visitors receive bands once identified by the patient, and the bands cannot be transferred.
  • Healthy siblings of the baby under 18 years are allowed and do not require wristbands.
  • Child siblings of the baby may not spend the night.

In the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU):

  • All visitors must be healthy with no symptoms of cold, flu or other illness.
  • Visitors will be screened daily. Those who pass the health screening will receive a dated sticker valid for one day.
  • Six designated adult support people are allowed, to include the visiting mother.
  • Only two designated adults may visit at a time.
  • Only visitors with pink (primary caregivers, a total of two badges) and green (support members, a total four) badges will be allowed into the unit.
  • Those under 18 years are not allowed to visit.

In Inpatient Pediatrics:

  • All visitors must be healthy with no symptoms of cold, flu or other illness.
  • Visitors will be screened daily. Those who pass the health screening will receive a dated sticker valid for one day.
  • Five designated adult support people are allowed, and they must wear armbands.
  • Adult visitors receive bands once identified by the patient, and the bands cannot be transferred.
  • Two designated caregivers will be allowed 24-hour access to the patient. All other visitors may visit between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.
  • Healthy siblings of the child under 18 years are allowed and do not require wristbands.
  • Child siblings of the child may not spend the night.
  • No visitors under 18 years will be allowed in common areas.