Visits from family and friends are important to patient comfort and healing. As part of Christiana Care’s visitor policy and welcome guidelines, and its commitment to a safe environment, the health system is introducing registration for visitors to Christiana and Wilmington hospitals during Quiet Hours of 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. Visitor registration is part of Christiana Care’s commitment to open visiting hours, so patients may have visitors around the clock if it is in the best interest of their health and sensitive to other patients in the hospital.

As of Feb. 1, friends and family visiting between 9 p.m and 6 a.m may register at the front desk at Christiana Hospital. Visitors to Wilmington Hospital during these hours may continue to enter through the Emergency Department. Visitors are asked for photo identification or can have a photo taken. A computerized system will create a unique self-adhesive badge with the date, the visitor’s name and picture, and the patient’s room number. This practice is standard at many hospitals.

“We have listened carefully to our patients and their visitors, and created a consistent visitor policy that supports our aim to provide optimal health and an exceptional experience for our patients,” said Shawn Smith, vice president for Patient Experience. “The new protocol contributes greatly to the safety of our patients and their loved ones, as well as our staff, without compromising in any way our commitment to open visiting hours. We hope it will create yet another layer of confidence throughout the community in our ability to serve our neighbors as respectful, expert, caring partners in their health.”

When considering visitors during Quiet Hours at night, the patient’s condition, the risk of infectious disease exposure, and the health and well-being of other patients in the room or on the unit are all taken into account. Patients can let their nurses know if they do not wish to have a visitor. To maintain a quiet, restful environment, patients ideally would have one visitor at a time between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m., although they may have more if circumstances allow. Visitors staying overnight must be at least 18 years old and able to care for themselves independently.

Nighttime visitors to the hospitals receive a temporary photo ID badge.
Nighttime visitors to the hospitals receive a temporary photo ID badge.

Visitors who arrive before 9 p.m. but who wish to stay after 9 p.m. may also be asked to register at the front desk to receive a badge. All visitors are encouraged to discuss their requests with the nurse who is caring for their friend or family member.

“Our welcome and visitor policy is very much in line with today’s best practices,” said Bruce T. Blackburn, CHPA, director of Public Safety. “Our new registration technology adds an enhanced layer of security. This is particularly important during nighttime hours, when patients are sleeping and hospital staff work to keep a quiet and safe environment to promote healing.”

To ensure the most effective protocol possible, the new policy was developed by a dedicated committee with leadership from Patient Experience, Nursing and Operations. Also integrally involved were 50 members of the Patient and Family Advisory Councils at both hospitals — former patients and loved ones who contribute their perspectives to Christiana Care initiatives.

“A significant body of evidence shows that the presence of family and friends – who are partners in our patients’ care – plays a vital role in the health and well-being of patients,” said Donna M. Casey, MA, BSN, NE-BC, FABC, vice president of Patient Care Services, Cardiovascular and Critical Care Nursing. “Our patient- and family-centered care model at Christiana Care encourages this, and has allowed us to welcome visitors 24 hours a day since 2005. With Quiet Hours visitor registration, we are creating a more healthful, safe environment for our patients and their loved ones, and for the staff at Christiana Care, while continuing to honor our open visiting policy.”