CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – March 13, 2020 – Due to the growing spread of coronavirus / COVID-19 in North Carolina, UNC Health announced today that it is enacting stricter restrictions for visitors, vendors, volunteers and students at its facilities across the state, including outpatient facilities and clinics. NOTE: These changes will be implemented locally based on each facility’s configuration and resources.
PLEASE NOTE: No visitor, vendor, volunteer or student with fever, cough, cold or flu-like symptoms should enter any UNC Health facility. Personal masks will not be provided. These visitor restrictions may be tightened further as the COVID-19 situation evolves.
Effective immediately, one designated visitor per patient for the duration of his/her stay/appointment will be permitted in the majority of patient areas at UNC Health facilities across the state. Pediatric areas will allow two designated guardians per patient. In accordance with state guidelines, psychiatry areas will prohibit all visitation with the exception of child psych/adolescent areas, on a case-by-case basis.
Additional exceptions will be granted for end-of-life situations at the discretion of the care team. All visitors to UNC Health facilities may be subject to health screening at any time. No visitors under the age of 18 will be allowed to visit for the foreseeable future.
Only vendors and contractors who are essential to patient care and business operations will be allowed onsite on an as-needed basis. Vendors and contractors who do not directly support patient care and critical business operations should work remotely and will not be allowed in UNC Health facilities until further notice. Vendors and contractors may be subject to health screening at any time prior to entry or while onsite at any UNC Health facility.
Volunteers are extremely important to the function of UNC Health hospitals and clinics, but it is equally important to protect the health of those volunteers and the people with whom they come in contact. Volunteers who do not directly support patient care activities or essential business operations should not report to UNC Health facilities until further notice. These volunteers should follow the same requirements as UNC Health employees. Volunteers age 65 and older, and those with underlying health conditions are discouraged from participating in their volunteer roles at this time.
UNC Health is an academic health system that values the mission of educating a health workforce for North Carolina and beyond. As we face the challenge of COVID-19, the education mission is clearly secondary to the primary mission of caring for the patients and populations we serve. Students are allowed in the clinical setting with the following expectations:
• Students must comply with all employee expectations regarding their own risk of illness.
• Students must meet all course expectations for professional behavior and clinical competence expected for their level of training.
• Students not adding value in the clinical setting may be dismissed by their clinical supervisors.
• Personal protective equipment is in short supply and therefore must be prioritized to those directly providing clinical care.
• At this point in time, we do not expect students to participate in the care of known COVID-19 patients.
• As the situation changes, these guidelines may change.
Students who do not provide clinical services should not visit UNC Health hospitals until further notice unless they are deemed necessary for essential business operations.
“As the COVID-19 situation evolves, we felt it was important to tighten access to our hospitals and clinics,” explained UNC Health CEO Dr. Wesley Burks. “Our top priority is to ensure the safety and welfare of patients, their families, and our incredible staff. While restricted access to our facilities will cause some inconvenience, we know it is in the best interest of our entire state.”
In addition to the restrictions outlined above, community events, activities, and meetings hosted at all UNC Health campuses also are canceled until further notice.
Headquartered in Chapel Hill, UNC Health is comprised of 11 hospitals across 13 hospital campuses and hundreds of clinic locations from Hendersonville to Jacksonville. Its hospitals / physician group include: