Today's Medicine

When You Visit the Hospital...

Safety for patients and guests

Nobody wants to be in the hospital. I’ve seen how a visit from family or friends can really lift the spirits of my patients.  

While all of us at Methodist strive to deliver The Meaning of Care to all patients and guests, there’s something all visitors need to know before walking through the door: Health and safety is our number one priority.

Clean hands count

The first thing we want all visitors to Methodist hospitals and clinics to be aware of is good hand hygiene. Having clean hands is the best way to protect yourself and your family from getting ill. Clean hands can stop germs from spreading.

Hand hygiene means cleaning your hands by using either handwashing (washing hands with soap and water) or alcohol-based hand sanitizer. For your convenience and patient safety, hand sanitizers are located outside our hospital rooms and at our clinic offices.

Immunizations are encouraged

We do encourage our visitors to stay current on their immunizations, including the annual flu vaccine. We don’t always require immunizations, but we may choose to in order to protect our patients during times of outbreak.

Vaccines are one of the most effective options for protecting infants, children, teenagers and adults of all ages from dangerous, even life-threatening, diseases. Vaccines greatly reduce the risk of being infected by certain diseases through building the body’s natural defenses.

Whooping cough risk

Besides staying current on your flu vaccine, another vaccine that can be very important is the pertussis vaccine, also known as Tdap. It protects you and others from whooping cough, an upper respiratory infection which can be serious or even fatal to newborns who have not yet received vaccinations.

"One poll showed that 61 percent of adults say they don’t know when they were last vaccinated against pertussis, which could mean they might be unwittingly exposing vulnerable babies to the disease." 

Dr. Rudolf Kotula
Medical Director of Epidemiology, Methodist Women's Hospital

Unique challenges in the NICU

And speaking of babies, a visit to the Methodist Women’s Hospital NICU means you will need to follow a stricter set of guidelines. Unlike other patients, newborn infants – especially those needing close supervision and additional medical help found in the NICU – are especially vulnerable to bugs brought in from the outside. Even the common cold can be very dangerous. That’s why we have a unique protocol for NICU guests.

We also ask that you only visit the NICU if you are feeling well and do not have an infection or infectious disease. That may include a cough or cold, pink eye, a cold sore, lice or scabies. Each NICU visitor will be asked to complete a wellness screening before entering. You will be asked if you or anyone you have been exposed to recently have had:

  • Fever
  • Skin sores
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Rash
  • Chicken pox/shingles
  • Red or draining eye
  • Muscle aches
  • Cough/upper respiratory infection

Prior to entering the NICU, we do require parents and visitors to have a current influenza vaccine, and provide documentation from their medical provider. School age children visiting the NICU need to be current with their immunizations and must provide proof of that. 

Age is a factor

And speaking of children, while people of any age can visit Methodist Hospital, Methodist Jennie Edmundson Hospital or Methodist Women’s Hospital, age is a factor when it comes to visiting the NICU. Children under the age of 14, including siblings, will not be allowed to visit the NICU during flu season. Visitors greater than 14 years old can visit a baby in the NICU when they have had the appropriate vaccines and waited the specific time period for the vaccine to become effective.

When in doubt…

When it comes to visiting any Methodist hospital, please just follow this simple guideline: If you’re sick, stay home. Sick people who visit loved ones in the hospital risk spreading illnesses to a population that’s already susceptible to infection. Help us keep your loved ones safe so you can enjoy their company at home again soon.


About the Author

Dr. Rudolf Kotula is a board-certified infectious disease physician. He specializes in areas such as antibiotic resistance, travel medicine and infection prevention.

You can visit Dr. Kotula at Methodist Physicians Clinic.

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