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What are our guidelines for family presence/visiting hours at UAB Hospital?

Question:

What are our guidelines for family presence/visiting hours at UAB Hospital?

Answer:

Loving and caring attention from family and friends of patients plays an important role in promoting well-being and a speedy recovery. At UAB, we encourage family and friends to spend as much time with the patient as possible, be there for doctor and nurse visits, and assist the patient by listening and asking questions. 

UAB Hospital offers open visitation 24 hours a day for most areas of the hospital. However, we ask that all family and friends who are not staying overnight with the patient to please wrap up visits by 10:30 pm to ensure the patient gets plenty of rest. Children may visit unless otherwise stated.

The UAB Women and Infants Center has an open visitation policy with no age requirements or set times; however, all visitors are required to check in on the first floor with the patient's name and room number to receive their visitor ID badge.

If visitors are sick or have children that are sick, they are encouraged to stay home. Patients need to be around healthy people; even a common cold could cause a problem for certain patients.  If you have an illness, or feel that you may be coming down with something, please speak with the patient's nurse to find out if you should stay away or if there is a safer way you can visit (such as wearing special clothing and/or masks).

We do not restrict or deny visitation privileges on the basis of age, race, gender, culture, religion, language, disabilities, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. We ensure that all visitors enjoy full and equal visitation privileges consistent with patient preferences.

Your Family’s Role

  • Appoint a family representative

Please choose one person to be our point of contact in the patient’s care who can also then communicate information to other family and friends. Our care team may give the representative a passcode to protect the patient’s privacy and security.

  • Spend as much time with the patient as possible

We offer open visitation 24 hours a day for most areas of the hospital and encourage someone to stay with the patient at all times. Visitation may be limited in certain ICUs or when it interferes with the patients’ safety or the rights of others. Please ask your care team if there are any restrictions or precautions for visiting your loved one.

  • If you are not spending the night, please wrap up all visits by 10:30 pm.
  • If you are staying the night, we offer coffee throughout the night in the North Pavilion 2nd floor atrium.
  • If privacy is needed, or if the care team feels that the patient is too sick to have someone with them at all times, you may be asked to leave the room.
  • Be there for doctor and nurse visits – and ask questions!

The most important members of the care team are patients and their families. We encourage you to ask questions, become involved, and speak up on behalf of your loved one.

Guidelines for Visiting

We understand this can be an overwhelming and stressful time. The following information may help you feel more comfortable while staying with your loved one.

  • Monitors and equipment in the room may alarm frequently. Your care team is trained to know the difference between reminder and emergency alarms. If you hear an alarm, please do not attempt to reset the equipment; instead, please call for the nurse.
  • Care providers may need to turn on some lights in the patient’s room during the night. This is for the patient’s safety as there are many lines and tubes to work around. In the ICU, lights may need to be left on at all times.
  • If you or your loved one needs assistance, please use the nurse call button and someone will come help you.
  • We use special equipment to move and adjust our patients; please talk to a nurse before moving the patient or their bed.
  • The number of visitors at the bedside may be limited at any given time with consideration for the patient’s safety and space restrictions.
  • Emergency situations may occur on the unit at any time. If this happens, you may be asked to leave the room so that we can dedicate all of our attention to your loved one.
  • We want you to be with your loved one as much as possible. However, if a conflict arises between family members and/or friends that interferes with our ability to provide care, we have the right to ask those involved to leave the unit and return only when the conflict has been resolved.
  • A comforting touch or familiar item from home can relax and make your loved one more comfortable. Please ask your care team what items you can bring from home. 

Patients need to be around healthy people; even a cold could cause a problem for a patient in the hospital. If you or your children have been sick or around others who have been sick in the past three weeks, please speak with your nurse before visiting the patient. Your care team may ask you not to visit or to wear a mask or special clothing to protect the patient. Examples of illness include fever, rash, flu or cold symptoms, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, strep throat, pink eye, and chicken pox or shingles.

Guidelines for Children Visiting

Children of any age may visit if they are supervised at all times by a parent or guardian who is not the patient. To encourage a safe and restful visit for both the patient and child, please follow the suggestions below:

  • When should a child visit?

           • The child has a close relationship to the patient.

           • The situation is very serious and visiting may be important to the child’s future well-being.

           • The child wants to visit – if he/she decides not to visit the patient, they may stay in touch by talking on the phone, drawing pictures, or writing letters or poems for the patient.

  • Before the Visit

           • Tell children they have to stay in the patient’s room or at the bedside during the visit.

           • Tell children they have to wash their hands before and after the visit.

           • Briefly describe the equipment in the room and what the patient looks like today.

  • During the Visit

• Even if the patient cannot talk, encourage the child to talk about school or activities he/she has been doing. The child may choose to remain silent – that is okay too.

• Let the child know it is okay to touch the patient or to give him/her a kiss on the cheek or forehead.

• Keep the visit brief. Don’t give children empty minutes to start imagining negative situations. Even an older child's imagination may wander after taking in the situation.

• With the exception of adolescents who might want alone time with the patient, younger children should not be left by themselves.

• For their safety, do not allow children to crawl on the floor.

• For the patient’s safety, do not allow children to pull on or push buttons on the equipment.

  • After the Visit

Despite preparation, children may be very emotional when they leave. If the patient looks very different, have a picture ready of the patient before they got sick and remind the child this is the person they visited. Suggest that they remember how he or she looked before this happened and the fun things they did together.

Guidelines for Babies Visiting

We understand the importance for patients, especially parents or grandparents, to see their children or grandchildren. However, babies under nine months have weaker immune systems. The following precautions are intended to keep the baby safe while visiting:

  • Staff should not hold or touch your baby.
  • Parents should not set the baby down on the floor or on the patient’s bed.
  • Please do not feed or change the baby’s diaper in the patient’s room.

Visiting a Patient with Isolation Precautions

You may be asked to wear a gown, gloves, and mask while visiting a patient on isolation precautions. Do NOT wear these items outside of the room as that spreads germs.

• Clean hands before entering the room and immediately upon exiting the room.

• Please do not bring infants younger than nine months to visit patients on isolation.

 

Keywords: visiting hours