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Mission Children's Hospital Restrictions

Updated: Wednesday, April 10 2013, 04:34 PM EDT
Mission Children's Hospital will be restricting visitors to its Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) after a possible exposure to chickenpox. Hospital officials determined that a group of infants and family members in the NICU were exposed to chickenpox on March 30, March 31 and April 1.  A visiting family member who had a fever and later developed chickenpox visited the NICU on those days.  Those infants who were potentially exposed and are not otherwise immune are being moved to a separate area of the NICU with a separate airflow system to minimize any further exposure.

The health and safety of our patients is of paramount concern at Mission Children s Hospital. Babies in the NICU are some of our most fragile and special patients, and we are taking every feasible precaution to protect them,  said Susan Mims, MD, MPH, Vice President of Mission Children s Hospital.  We are monitoring all of the babies closely. At this time, none of the babies in the NICU have developed any symptoms of chickenpox. If any babies should develop symptoms, they will receive evidence-based treatment according to the highest standards of care and best practices.

Until these restrictions are lifted, all babies in the NICU will be allowed two specifically designated visitors. The infant s mother and one additional visitor will be required to provide proof of immunity against the varicella-zoster virus that causes chickenpox or be tested to evaluate their immune status.  Importantly, mothers who have had chickenpox or who have been vaccinated for the virus pass their immunity to their child at birth, one of the many benefits of vaccination. Hospital officials are working to identify which babies in the NICU who were exposed to chickenpox received immunity from their mothers.

There is simply no practical way to screen for this disease or others in potential visitors, so we implore anyone who has a fever or other symptoms of illness to refrain from visiting family and friends in the hospital at any time,  said William Maples, MD, Senior Vice President and Chief Quality Officer at Mission Health.

The restrictions at Mission Children s Hospital are being imposed to protect the health of the babies and their families and to minimize the risk of exposure to chickenpox throughout the community. NICU babies and other hospitalized patients are frequently at increased risk for infection, so we depend upon our strong community partnership to collectively mitigate this risk. We encourage friends and family to check on any baby in the NICU through a phone call to the mother or family member rather than through a visit to the hospital to ensure their safety,  continued Dr. Maples.

Infectious disease specialists are working to identify and implement recommendations for a group of babies who were discharged before the exposure was identified.

Patients and concerned families who have any questions about potential exposure are encouraged to call (828) 213-2255 for more information. This hotline will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day, beginning Wednesday, April 10.Mission Children's Hospital Restrictions

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