With cold and flu season approaching, Rhode Island Hospital and its Hasbro Children’s Hospital will put an enhanced respiratory virus prevention program in place for hospital visitors beginning Monday, October 1.

Visitors to selected adult units and to all pediatric units are verbally screened for signs of respiratory illness year-round. Beginning in October 2018, visitors to every inpatient unit will be screened through the end of April.

The change comes after data from recent years show that screening visitors led to a nearly 3-fold reduction in the risk of patients acquiring  a respiratory virus infection while hospitalized during the cold and flu season.

“We believe that implementing this simple verbal visitor screening procedure on all of our inpatient units is a seminal component of our infection prevention program,” said Leonard Mermel, D.O, Sc.M., medical director of epidemiology and infection control for the hospital. “As we expanded this program to more patient care units in recent years, we have received highly positive feedback from our patients, visitors and staff.”

In addition to visitor screening, the hospital routinely takes other precautions:

  • Newly arrived patients presenting with signs or symptoms suggestive of a respiratory viral infection are screened at hospital admission using a non-invasive nasal swab that allows rapid diagnosis and appropriate precautions.
  • Visitors younger than 12 years old are not allowed into inpatient units in Hasbro Children’s Hospital from October through April. Children under 12 are discouraged from visiting adult units year-round.
  • Kiosks at every hospital entrance are equipped with alcohol-based hand sanitizer, tissues and masks.
  • Hospital staff, both clinical and non-clinical, are required to have the influenza vaccine, or to wear a mask at all times should they be unable to be vaccinated when influenza is widespread in our state.

More information on flu season and precautions can be found at on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

Christina Spaight O'Reilly

Senior Public Relations Officer
Rhode Island Hospital