UPDATE: Due to the persistence of influenza A and its potential health impact on children, the enforcement of our seasonal visitor restriction policy will be extended through April 30. Please continue reading for details.
Keeping patients safe is a #1 priority at Akron Children’s and we accomplish this in a number of ways – from limiting our patients’ exposure to infectious illnesses to preventing falls and medication errors. With respiratory virus season upon us, the risk of spreading influenza and RSV to patients with other medical problems is a legitimate concern and one that our staff is taking steps to prevent.
“Visitors this time a year can become accidental sources of infection to the children they visit and to others in the hospital,” said Dr. John Bower, infectious disease pediatrician. “Among visitors, children under age 12 pose the greatest risk because they are more frequently infected and can shed viruses even without symptoms.”
Due to these concerns, the hospital enacted a new seasonal visitor restriction policy that is being enforced annually from December 3 – March 31 (peak season for influenza and RSV). The policy advises families not to visit if they have signs and symptoms of infection and to not bring children younger than 12 to visit.
“Unlike prior years, where the restrictions applied mainly to critical care units, the limitation of visitors will be applied to all inpatient units,” said Dr. Bower. “This change is in response to the growing number of vulnerable patients admitted to all floors.”
Since small and crowded conditions increase the risk of spreading infection, visitors will be limited to 4 people per room (this includes parents/caregivers).
“Patients in the intensive care units (PICU, NICU and Burn Unit) and on the hematology/oncology floor are at even higher risk for infections and additional restrictions may apply,” said Dr. Bower. “Brief exceptions to the age and/or number of visitors are granted for major holidays of the year (such as Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year and Easter) and for exceptional circumstances at the attending or nurse manager’s discretion.”