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What you need to know before visiting someone at Duke Health, UNC Health or WakeMed

Jonathan Vitek, RN, checks numerous IV medications and fluids being administered to a COVID patient. The explosion of COVID-19 patients has helped fill beds and emergency rooms at Duke Raleigh, UNC Rex and WakeMed hospitals in Wake County.

Jonathan Vitek, RN, checks numerous IV medications and fluids being administered to a COVID patient. The explosion of COVID-19 patients has helped fill beds and emergency rooms at Duke Raleigh, UNC Rex and WakeMed hospitals in Wake County.

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Hospitals across the Triangle have been inundated with COVID-19 patients in recent weeks as virus cases and hospitalizations surge.

The strain led hospital officials from WakeMed, Duke Health and UNC Health last week to urge people to avoid emergency care unless it is necessary.

Each of those major hospital systems, which together operate at least a dozen hospitals in Wake, Durham, Orange, and Johnston counties, are now revising their visitor policies as well.

In addition to requiring all visitors to wear masks, most hospitals are limiting the number of visitors allowed during visiting hours and overnight. Most hospitals are barring visitors under the age of 18, though there are some exceptions.

The News & Observer reached out to hospitals and reviewed the updated visitor policies on their websites. Here’s a rundown:

WakeMed

Visiting hours: No fixed hours for visitors seeing admitted patients (rules may be different for surgical patients)

Locations: WakeMed Raleigh (New Bern Avenue), WakeMed North Hospital (Falls of Neuse Road), WakeMed Cary (Kildaire Farm Road)

A revised visitor policy went into effect Aug. 27, in light of “the highly contagious delta variant and overall soaring patient volumes,” said Kristin Kelly, a spokesperson for WakeMed Health and Hospitals, in an email.

Visitors across all WakeMed hospitals are screened daily, must be at least 18 years old and must be free of any contagious diseases, including COVID-19 or other respiratory illnesses. Visitors are asked to remain in the room of the patient they’re visiting, and are not allowed to wait in lobbies or waiting rooms.

The following rules apply for visitors depending on the patient they’re seeing:

Adult patients are allowed two visitors at a time during a 24-hour period. One of those visitors is allowed to stay with the patient overnight, as long as they stay in their room.

Patients undergoing surgery are allowed one visitor who can wait for them during the procedure in a visitor waiting area. Once the patient has been admitted to a room, they can have two visitors.

Adult patients who are suspected of having COVID-19 or test positive for the virus are not allowed any visitors, except for end-of-life care situations.

Laboring women are allowed two support persons in addition to a doula. If a maternity patient is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19, they are allowed a single support person, who will be provided with protective personal equipment (PPE), but is required to stay in the patient’s room, and cannot leave and come back later.

Pediatric patients undergoing surgery can have two support persons at a time, and up to four support persons per day (only two can be in the patient’s room and the facility at a time, however). They’re also allowed to have two visitors stay with them overnight.

Pediatric patients who are suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 are allowed to have two support persons stay with them, but those visitors are required to stay in the patient’s room, and cannot leave and then come back. The support persons will be given PPE.

Duke Health

Visiting hours: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily

Locations: Duke University Hospital, Duke Regional Hospital and Duke Raleigh Hospital

A modified visitor policy went into effect Aug. 30, and is “based on recommendations from the CDC and our infectious disease experts,” Duke Health says on its website.

Visitors across all Duke Health hospitals are screened daily and must wear a face mask, and should continue to do so in the patient’s room, the hospital system says. Visitors should bring a form of photo identification with them.

The following rules apply for visitors depending on the patient they’re seeing:

Adult patients can designate two visitors 18 or older for the duration of their stay in the hospital. One of those visitors is allowed to stay overnight.

Adult patients undergoing surgery are also allowed two designated visitors who can join them after their procedure and when they are admitted or returned to a room.

Adult patients who have COVID-19 or are under investigation for COVID-19 cannot have visitors, except for end-of-life care situations.

Pediatric and maternity patients suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 are allowed two visitors 18 or older, but only one can be in the patient’s room at a time.

Other pediatric patients, including those undergoing surgery, are allowed two designated visitors 18 or older. Both visitors can stay with the child overnight.

Laboring women are allowed two designated visitors, one of whom can be a doula. These visitors must be 12 older. After birth, the patient’s two visitors can stay with them for the entire duration of their stay in the hospital. Visiting hours don’t apply to them.

Patients in the emergency department are allowed a single visitor who are 12 or older, depending on capacity. Visiting hours aren’t in effect for the emergency department either.

Visitors staying overnight must complete a health screening every day, and must stay within the hospital. If they leave the building, they won’t be allowed back inside until visiting hours begin the next morning at 9 a.m.

UNC Health

Visiting hours: Vary by location

Locations: UNC Medical Center, UNC Rex, UNC Hillsborough, Chatham Hospital, Johnston Health (Clayton and Smithfield)

UNC Health operates several hospitals throughout the Triangle, and the facilities have been revising their visitor policies in recent weeks.

Alan Wolf, a spokesperson for UNC Health, said in an email that as the current surge in COVID-19 cases “is expected to worsen in coming weeks,” the hospital system will “continue to adjust our policies as necessary.”

In the meantime, here are the current visitor policies in place for each of UNC Health’s hospitals.

UNC Medical Center (as of July 2)

Adult patients are allowed two designated visitors per day. One visitor can stay overnight, but must arrive at the facility by 9 p.m.

Patients who test positive for COVID-19 are allowed one designated visitor, who can visit at times set by the patient’s care team.

Pediatric patients can have up to three designated visitors age 18 or older, but only two can visit at a time. Children who test positive for COVID-19 can have one parent — who must be asymptomatic — stay with them in their room.

Children undergoing surgery can have one parent or guardian stay in the surgical patient care area before and after surgery.

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Katie Downey, RN, cares for a COVID patient in the Medical Intensive Care Unit at UNC Hospital in Chapel Hill, N.C. Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021. Scott Sharpe [email protected]

UNC Rex (as of Aug. 10)

All visitors must be at least 18 or older.

Adult patients are allowed two designated visitors per day. One visitor can stay overnight, but must arrive at the facility by 9 p.m.

Patients who test positive for COVID-19 are allowed one designated visitor, who can visit at times set by the patient’s care team.

Emergency department patients are allowed one visitor once the patient has been moved to a room.

Laboring women can have their designated partner stay with them throughout the duration of their stay in the hospital. Find more details on the policy for laboring women here.

Pediatric patients can have up to three designated visitors, but only two can visit at a time. Children who test positive for COVID-19 can have one parent — who must be asymptomatic — stay with them in their room.

Pediatric patients undergoing surgery can have two parents or guardians wait in the surgical patient care area before and after the procedure.

UNC Hillsborough

The same visitation policies in place for UNC Medical Center are in effect for UNC Hillsborough, Wolf said.

Johnston Health (as of Aug. 23)

Adult patients are allowed two visitors who must undergo screening, one of whom can stay overnight.

All visitors across all facilities and departments must be 18 or older. For information regarding laboring, pediatric and COVID-positive patients, check Johnston Health’s website.

Chatham Hospital

All medical and surgical patients (including those admitted in the intensive care unit) are allowed a maximum of two visitors at a time. For more information, including suggested visiting hours, check Chatham Hospital’s website.

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Avi Bajpai covers breaking news and public safety for The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun.

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