Atrium to begin visitor restrictions, masking

Published 1:37 pm Wednesday, December 6, 2023

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Atrium Health, like many health systems across the Carolinas, has seen an increase in respiratory viruses, including COVID-19, flu and RSV.

Due to this increase, Atrium Health will implement temporary visitor restrictions for children age 12 and younger, starting 7 a.m., Thursday.

To reduce the possibility of spreading viruses, visitors who are age 12 and younger will not be permitted to visit patients in hospitals, behavioral health and inpatient rehabilitation locations. Under certain circumstances, such as visiting a dying family member, the patient’s care team may make arrangements for visitors under 12. Throughout the year, and especially right now, visitors who do not feel well or who have a confirmed case of flu, RSV, COVID-19 or any other respiratory virus should not visit.

Atrium Health is also temporarily updating its masking policy in high-risk settings in an effort to protect our patients and to slow the spread of respiratory illnesses. Masks will be required when entering a patient’s room in these settings, which include acute care hospitals, rehabilitation hospitals and units, emergency departments (including freestanding ED locations), skilled nursing facilities, behavioral health, inpatient hospice, infusion centers and certain cancer care areas, including outpatient bone marrow transplant clinics.

“It is essential we protect our most vulnerable patients during respiratory virus season,” said Dr. Katie Passaretti, vice president and enterprise chief epidemiologist for Atrium Health. “We have seen in the past how these viruses, such as COVID-19, flu and RSV can cause severe disease and even death. We recognize that visitor restrictions may be inconvenient for some, but they are temporary changes to ensure we are doing everything we can to protect our patients, as well as our teammates and our community.”

These restrictions and updated masking policies become effective Thursday morning at Atrium Health locations across the greater Charlotte area.

Atrium Health also urges members of the community to continue taking measures that are known to limit the spread of respiratory viruses. Health officials strongly encourage people stay home when they are sick, maintain good respiratory etiquette, such as hand washing and covering the nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing and stay up to date on all vaccines – including the updated COVID-19 vaccine and the new RSV vaccine – to protect against illness heading into the holiday season.

As always, patients are asked to only visit the emergency department if they are experiencing a serious or life-threatening illness or injury. Those who need medical attention for more routine symptoms such as cough, fever, fatigue and other flu-like symptoms should contact their primary care provider. Other options include urgent care centers and virtual visits.

It is important to note that some hospitals and health systems may have additional restrictions on visitors in certain areas and restrictions are subject to change without notice. Please read and follow signage posted on-site and follow any directions provided by staff members at the facility.