Durham County

Got the sniffles and want to visit a patient? Stay away, Duke Hospital says

Duke University Hospital welcomes visitors who are not suffering from the flu or flu-like symptoms.
Duke University Hospital welcomes visitors who are not suffering from the flu or flu-like symptoms.

Duke University Hospital is not following the footsteps of a Raleigh hospital, which is implementing a more restrictive visitation policy for children 12 and under.

WakeMed will be temporarily prohibiting visits by children younger than 13 to its birthing and neonatal units during the cold and flu season. Its policy goes into effect Oct. 1, which is earlier than normal, according to a news release. The hospital is citing the rise of Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) and influenza (flu) that become more prevalent during the fall and winter.

“This is not a new policy,” said WakeMed spokeswoman Kristin Kelly Gruman. “RSV season typically starts in the fall and can run through early spring. Our visitation restrictions follow the same timeline to help prevent the spread of illness and prevent any additional illness while patients are in our care. These restrictions are not in place year-round.”

Meanwhile, Duke Hospital is maintaining its current approach, including for younger visitors.

“We do not have any formal restrictions at this time, but do ask that people who are sick, including staff and visitors, refrain from visiting any inpatient units, and particularly the neonatal intensive care unit and birthing suites,” said Dr. Cameron Wolfe, an infectious disease specialist at Duke. “Staff throughout the hospital are allowed to request that visitors with upper respiratory symptoms please head home.”

There are some specialized units at Duke Hospital, like intensive care units and the bone marrow service, that have rules about children and visitation that are enforced year-long, according to Wolfe.

Joe Johnson: 919-419-6678, @JEJ_HSNews

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