Visitor Policy Changes at UChicago Medicine for COVID-19

To protect patients, staff, and the University of Chicago Medicine community, no visitors are being allowed at the University of Chicago Medical Center and Ingalls Memorial Hospital.

Visitor Restrictions for Adult Patients:

  • No visitors are allowed for inpatients in adult hospitals.
  • No visitors can be with the patient in the adult emergency department.
  • Adult ambulatory care clinic, procedure and surgery patients may have one person with them providing transportation and assistance.
  • Anyone with a fever, cough or flu-like illnesses will not be allowed.
  • No visitors under 18 will be allowed
  • Everyone must follow all safety rules on the signs outside patient rooms. If you are not sure what to do, ask a healthcare provider before entering the room.

Visitor Restrictions for Family Birth Center:

  • Actively laboring patients may have one support person.
  • One support person will be allowed in the OR for cesarean deliveries (C-sections). While in the OR, the support person must wear a mask covering their mouth and nose and remain seated at all times.
  • No support person is allowed for antepartum (high-risk) patients.
  • All support people must remain within the patient room until discharge. Meals will be provided.
  • No support people with influenza-like illness are allowed. If symptoms develop while in the unit, the person will be asked to leave. Another symptom-free support person will be allowed.
  • No change in support person is allowed (except as indicated above).
  • Anyone with a fever, cough or flu-like illnesses will not be allowed.
  • No visitors under 18 will be allowed
  • Everyone must follow all safety rules on the signs outside patient rooms. If you are not sure what to do, ask a healthcare provider before entering the room.

Visitor Restrictions for Comer Children's:

  • Yellow wrist bands will be given to two parents/legal guardians.
  • In Comer Children's Hospital — including the NICU, PICU, CICU, Comer 5 and Comer 6 — patients may only have one visitor at a time. The visitor must be a parent/legal guardian that has been given a yellow wrist band.
  • All visitors must wear a mask covering the mouth and nose at all times.
  • In the NICU, visiting hours are from 12pm (noon) to 7pm and from 8pm to 7am.
  • The pediatric emergency department allows one adult parent/legal guardian to be with the child.
  • Pediatric ambulatory care clinics, procedure and surgery patients may have two adult parents/legal guardians to be with the child.
  • Patients with outpatient appointments and procedures can have up to two adult parents/guardians to accompany the child.
  • Anyone with a fever, cough or flu-like symptoms will not be allowed.
  • No visitors under 18 will be allowed
  • Everyone must follow all safety rules on the signs outside patient rooms. If you are not sure what to do, ask a healthcare provider before entering the room.

Limited exceptions may be granted. In all cases, visitors will be required to undergo a health screening. We’ve instituted a universal masking policy for all medical center visitors. Visitors who do not have masks when they arrive will be provided a mask when they enter.

We did not make this decision lightly, but believe it is a necessary step to protect our patients, their families, our healthcare workers, and the community during a public health crisis. We understand this change will create a significant hardship for many people, but ask for your understanding and cooperation during this difficult time.

How to get tested for COVID-19

Testing is available to anyone who has symptoms of influenza-like illness, which include fever, cough, stuffy nose, sinus pain, difficulty breathing and body aches.

You must be screened by our triage team before you can be tested. To be screened, call our COVID-19 triage hotline or log in to MyChart to complete a virtual screening questionnaire (current patients only). Nurses and healthcare providers are staffing the triage lines and will determine if you should schedule an appointment to be tested at a curbside testing clinic. 

Curbside testing is not available without an appointment. Drive-up swab collection visits typically take several minutes to complete. You will receive information on how to self-isolate and monitor for symptoms after your visit and will get follow-up phone calls with your test results in 1-2 days.

See our full screening information and patient education packets.

Frequently Asked Questions about Patient Care

Yes, we are still seeing non-COVID patients, just in a new way.  We are offering video visits, which allow you to see and talk with your provider through the camera on your phone or your computer to assess your condition and discuss a course of treatment. If you have an upcoming appointment with your provider, you may be contacted to set up a video visit.  In some cases, we still need to see you in person and, if so, we will do everything to ensure your safety.

In addition to video visits, you can also connect with your provider remotely through e-visits or online second opinions.

Virtual visits are not for emergencies. If you have an urgent medical need, call 911 or visit your nearest emergency department or urgent care facility. All patients who are able should utilize their online patient portal (MyChart or Ingalls Care Connection) to communicate with their care teams.

One unintentional consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic is that many patients have delayed receiving needed care as they followed “stay-at-home” orders.

With the pandemic expected to last for several more months, patients can no longer delay receiving needed care for cancer, heart disease and chronic illnesses, including necessary lab work, imaging and other diagnostic tests.

If you and your physician determine that your condition requires a visit to our medical center in Hyde Park or one of our outpatient clinics for follow-up care or diagnostic testing, such as imaging or blood work, we have implemented a number of new policies to keep you safe. To continue serving all of our patients, UChicago Medicine has gone above and beyond state and national standards to protect patients’ health and safety while they receive medical care.  

Absolutely. Your safety and the safety of our staff is our highest priority, and we have implemented a number of practices to ensure you can get the high-quality care you need. 

  • Our healthcare workers have been fully supplied with highly effective personal protective equipment (PPE) and trained in its use in order to protect our patients and themselves.
  • In the hospital and in our clinics, we have dedicated floors and units for treating coronavirus cases that are separate from the general patient population.
  • Staff, patients and visitors are required to participate in universal masking to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • All employees and patients are instructed to follow the Centers for Disease and Control guidelines for social distancing of remaining 6 feet apart, including in waiting areas.
  • Staff are also minimizing the time patients spend in waiting areas. This means patients will either be brought directly into patient rooms or, at some locations, patients will be checked in by phone in their car and asked to come when their exam room is ready. In the event a waiting room must be used, seats are spaced out to maintain social distancing.
  • In addition, clinics are performing the normal check-out process and follow-up scheduling by phone to avoid patients congregating in waiting areas.

We have a long history of continuously enhancing and improving our medical center’s safety systems and protocols. This practice has enabled us to care for patients with COVID-19 safely and effectively while still meeting our community’s needs for a wide range of medical services.

Throughout the pandemic, our clinical teams have continued to provide medically necessary, time-sensitive care to patients for whom a delay in treatment could have been life-threatening.

As we transition back to providing our full array of medical services, we are honored that our clinical teams’ skill in providing the safest level of care was recognized nationally on April 30. The University of Chicago Medical Center was awarded its 17th consecutive “A” grade for patient safety by the healthcare watchdog Leapfrog Group. We are the only medical center in Chicago to have achieved this record of consecutive “A” safety ratings and one of only 32 hospitals nationwide.

Testing is available to anyone who has any of the symptoms of influenza-like illness, which include fever, cough, stuffy nose, sinus pain, difficulty breathing, inability to smell or taste and body aches.

You must be screened by our triage team before you can be tested. To be screened, call our COVID-19 triage hotline or current patients should log in to MyChart to complete a virtual screening questionnaire. Nurses and healthcare providers are staffing the triage lines and will determine if you should schedule an appointment to be tested at a curbside testing clinic.

Curbside testing is not available without an appointment. Drive-up swab collection visits typically take several minutes to complete. You will receive information on how to self-isolate and monitor for symptoms after your visit and will get follow-up phone calls with your test results in one to two days.

See our full screening information and patient education packets.

Any visitor entering our clinics or hospitals will be screened to ensure they do not have a fever or other symptoms of COVID-19. All will be issued a mask if they are not already wearing one and will be expected to wear their mask properly while on the medical campus. 

Hospital Visitor Restrictions 

  • To protect patients and staff, no visitors are being allowed at the University of Chicago Medical Center and Ingalls Memorial Hospital because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
  • Exceptions apply only to pediatric patients who may be accompanied by one adult or guardian, as well as patients who are actively in labor, who may be accompanied by one support person. All support people must remain in the care room with the accompanied patient until that patient has been discharged. Meals will be provided to these visitors.
  • No visitors under the age of 18 or persons with cold or flu-like symptoms are allowed. Support persons accompanying those in labor will not be admitted to the OR if the person in labor requires a cesarean delivery (C-section). Antepartum (high-risk) patients will also not be allowed a support person, in order to best ensure their health and safety.

Outpatient Clinic Visitor Restrictions

  • Visitors who must accompany ambulatory patients to provide transportation or other assistance will be required to remain in safe waiting spaces, such as their cars or a designated area that allows for appropriate social distancing, while the patient is receiving care. 

We will continue restrictions on visitation until our infectious diseases experts, in consultation with state and city public health officials, determine it is safe to resume allowing hospital visitation on a limited basis. Visitor restrictions are being evaluated at an ongoing basis. Stay up to date on the full visitor policy changes.

No. Visits to the grocery store, pharmacy and medical center, among others, are considered essential and remain open.

All clinical care areas are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected after every patient encounter. This has been UChicago Medicine’s practice long before the COVID-19 pandemic because of our commitment to providing the safest patient environment. 

In addition to keeping the entire medical center clean, EVS team uses products proven to sanitize rooms in between patients. In addition, there are dedicated EVS staff in areas dealing directly with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients and testing to ensure a constant presence and to limit the spread the virus outside of those areas.

These spaces include cohorted inpatient floors, DCAM’s outpatient testing area, the Mitchell Hospital testing facility, and the adult and pediatric emergency rooms.

Yes. Our surgical specialties are offering virtual video and telephone visits to help you plan for upcoming operations, answer your questions and prepare you for in-person visits to the medical center. Use the below link to find more information on each surgical specialty area.

Department of Surgery COVID-19 information

To prevent the further spread of COVID-19, UChicago Medicine has created special inpatient units and an outpatient clinic for treating these patients. These are located in separate areas of the hospital and our medical campus. This physical separation of COVID-19 patients from other patients who need medical care is important to the prevention of any inadvertent spread of the virus. Patients who have COVID-19 or are under investigation for the disease are being cohorted on designated floors or areas, and they are in specially designed negative-pressure rooms.

Patient Testing at our Hospitals

  • All inpatients in the University of Chicago Medical Center or UChicago Medicine Ingalls Memorial community hospital will be tested to screen for possible infection with the COVID-19 virus, whether or not they have any symptoms of infection.
  • All patients who need emergency care in our emergency departments or outpatient urgent care centers will be offered testing to screen for possible infection.
  • All outpatients coming for surgery or any other medical procedure will be tested to screen for possible COVID-19 infection. 

Patient Testing at our Outpatient Clinics

  • Higher-risk patients coming for ambulatory care appointments may also be tested.
  • All outpatients coming for doctor’s appointments will be screened for fever or other symptoms of COVID-19 upon entering a UChicago Medicine facility.

All UChicago Medicine healthcare workers will continue to be closely and actively monitored for any signs of illness and, if symptomatic, will be tested and restricted from work until it is safe for them to return.

Valet parking is currently unavailable. Self-parking options in Garages A and B as well as free street parking on the nearby Midway Plaisance are available.

Directions and parking garage information

UChicago Medicine is adhering to universal masking practices for all patients, visitors and staff.

  • All patients are required to wear a face mask at all times. They will be issued a face mask upon entrance to our facilities if they do not have one of their own. It is highly recommended for patients to wear masks on their way to any of the UChicago Medicine locations.
  • All visitors are required to wear a face mask at all times. They will be issued one upon entrance to our facilities if they do not have one of their own.
  • All healthcare workers, non-clinical support staff and all other UCM employees are required to wear a face mask at all times in all locations of our hospitals and clinics, including parking garages and outdoor spaces on our medical campuses.

Social Distancing Requirements

  • All healthcare workers, non-clinical support staff and all other employees are required to practice social distancing and maintain a distance of 6 feet from each other unless they are wearing a full complement of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and are delivering care to a patient.
  • All patients and visitors are required to practice social distancing while in our clinics and hospitals.
  • Waiting rooms have been rearranged so that chairs are 6 feet apart. 
  • Patient check-ins and check-outs are now being done remotely.
  • When possible, patients are asked to wait in their cars until they are called on their cellphone for their appointment. Patients will then be escorted directly to the exam room, bypassing the waiting room.

A limited number of dining options are available to patients at the Hyde Park campus. The Kitchen at Billings in the basement of Mitchell Hospital is open during normal hours, and the SKY Café in the Center for Care and Discovery is open 24/7 with a limited menu.

The Kitchen at Billings

  • Serves freshly prepared breakfasts and lunches. Features comfort and healthy favorites, including made-to-order sandwiches and salads, burgers, home-style entrees, pizza and Mr. Pak’s sushi.
  • Located in the basement, near the “D” elevators
  • Hours: Monday through Friday: 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday: Closed

SKY Café

  • Serves freshly prepared breakfast, lunch and dinner. Features a wide selection of comfort and healthy favorites, including made-to-order omelets, sandwiches, salads and burgers. Weekly hot meal specials are provided. Peet’s Coffee is also available, as well as made-to-order smoothies.
  • Located in the Sky Lobby (seventh floor)
  • Hours: Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week

Yes. For hours and location info, visit our pharmacy support and information page.

Some of our locations are not accepting new patients or have temporarily limited their services. If you have a previously scheduled appointment or questions, call 773-702-1220 to check the status of your visit.

Limited services:

  • The Orthopaedic team is seeing adult and pediatric patients at an interim space at Comer Children’s. They plan to re-open their locations at DCAM, South Loop and Orland Park sometime in May.
  • Orland Park and River East locations are open for patients requiring an urgent visit. Non-urgent visits are being conducted virtually. Specialties with in-person clinics include Primary Care, Orthopaedics, Oncology and Women’s Health.

Temporary closures:

  • South Loop
  • River East non-urgent services
  • Schererville, Indiana
  • Pulmonary Function testing at the Occupational Medicine clinics is temporarily suspended.

If you are experiencing mild-to-medium symptoms of COVID-19 — which include fever, muscle and body aches, cough and sore throat — stay at home, self-isolate and rest.

Monitor your temperature and drink plenty of fluids. Continue to wash your hands often, disinfect frequently touched surfaces in your home and stay away from other people as much as possible. If your condition worsens, reach out to your doctor — ideally by calling or messaging them through your MyChart account — for advice.

You’ll need to stay home for 72 hours after you recover.

Contact a doctor if you experience more severe symptoms, are over 60, or have additional health issues. People with hypertension (high blood pressure) and diabetes, who have weak immune systems, who smoke, with underlying lung disease, or who take medicines to suppress their immune systems because they have cancer or an autoimmune condition are at higher risk for COVID-19.

Contact a doctor if you’re experiencing the following symptoms:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Trouble breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Wheezing
  • Constant or severe abdominal pain
  • Confusion
  • Unable to keep food and liquids down

If any of these symptoms are severe, you should go to an emergency room. If you are over 60 and have other chronic medical problems, consider contacting an emergency room even if you have less-severe symptoms of COVID-19.

The hospital and emergency room should be used only by people who are concerned about life-threatening symptoms, such as trouble breathing and chest pain. If you’re just a little bit sick, the best thing you can do is self-isolate and try to keep the virus from spreading to others.

If you are over 60 and have other chronic medical problems in addition to less-severe symptoms of the virus, you should consider contacting your doctor to see if they recommend you go to the emergency room.

Across the country, public health officials are concerned that the so-called “worried well” (those with less severe cases or who aren’t sick at all) will clog hospitals and emergency rooms. That takes resources away from sick patients and risks spreading germs to others who haven’t yet been exposed.

If you need to see a doctor or go to an emergency room because you have COVID-19 symptoms, contact your physician or local hospital immediately and tell them you are coming. They will arrange to care for you while also protecting those around you from possible spread of coronavirus.

Also, remember that it is safe to go to the doctor for medical issues unrelated to the coronavirus. Do not hesitate to contact your healthcare provider if you have concerns about your health.

Hi. I'm Emily Landon. I'm the hospital epidemiologist and an adult infectious diseases specialist at the University of Chicago Medicine. 
And I'm Allison Barlett. I'm the associate hospital epidemiologist. And I'm a pediatric infectious diseases specialist here at the Comer Children's Hospital at the University of Chicago Medicine. 

We're here today to answer more of your questions about the coronavirus or COVID-19. 
So a lot of you have been hearing about this term that's called social distancing, which may be a new concept or a new term for some of you. But really, it's an old concept. It is ways that we can all work together to spread ourselves out from other people and keep ourselves safe from spreading infection in large group settings. 

In an outbreak like this one, most people are going to be just fine. However, there certainly are a lot of people that are at very high risk. Even if you're not the person at high risk, the speed at which this disease spreads throughout our community makes a big difference in terms of how many people are sick at the same time. 

You know that in your own family, everybody can get a cold within a week or week and a half of one another. And you can all end up sick at the same time. If that happens with our older and more vulnerable people in the United States, they could easily overwhelm our hospital system. And we may not have enough beds for all the patients that need to be cared for. In order to prevent that from happening, we all have to do our part to help spread ourselves out and slow the spread. 

When we talk about influenza, we usually use things like vaccines and antiviral medications to help prevent people from getting sick and slow the spread in our communities. We don't have that for this brand new disease. And more people than ever are susceptible to it. 

So what we need instead is for everyone to take precautions to keep themselves separated from every other person. You don't know when the person that you're sitting next to is going to get sick in two days. And then you might be at risk. 

This graph shows what happens when everyone gets sick at the same time. If we all keep going to the grocery store and the theater and spending time with our friends, and all our kids stay in school, and everybody keeps going to work and doing their lives the same way, then everyone will get sick quickly. Certainly, we'll get through the epidemic more quickly. And that may be preferable to some of us. But if we don't slow things down, as you can see from this line here, it could be that there aren't enough hospital beds for when my mom and your mom get sick. 

Instead, if we do the things that we're talking about, like staying home from work and working from home when your boss tells you that that's a good idea, avoiding making extra trips out to do errands, spending less time in crowds, cleaning off surfaces, and all of the other things that we are talking about today, then we can slow the curve of the epidemic. And hopefully it will fall under our capacity so that our hospitals can keep being able to take care of patients that need us. 

So there are definitely different categories of ways that we can work together to practice social distancing. The easiest is, just as Dr. Landon has mentioned, to decrease unnecessary trips and running errands and staying out of large group gatherings. 

There are other things that we may implement that are working from home, which is, again, a way to keep yourself away from crowds. When you are working from home, you're doing exactly that. You are performing your work functions at home instead of going to your usual place of business. There's no other restrictions on your ability to go to the grocery store or to run the errands that you need to do, except that we do also want everyone to be mindful of all of the time that we're spending in public. 

Then we have patients who we are placing under what we call quarantine, so people who have an infection or have been exposed that we are having purposely stay in their house. They're able to work from home, if possible, but limiting all of the other trips that they're taking outside of the home to go get groceries and run their errands. 

So I think there's a couple really easy things that we probably should have been doing all the time. But now really is our chance to show that we can shine in terms of helping keep both ourselves safe and, again, practicing social distancing and respiratory hygiene to protect everyone around us. 

So you've heard a lot about all sorts of new alternatives for the good old fashioned handshake, so fist bumps and embracing the Vulcan myself and elbow bumps and any variety of other ways to greet people and acknowledge our relationships and community without transferring germs. 

I think other things that we can be doing much better are practicing our own good hand hygiene, not just after we're using the restrooms or before we're eating, but just regularly throughout the day, keeping your work surfaces clean, wiping off your keyboard and your phone. And practicing good respiratory etiquette, coughing into your sleeve, using disposable tissues, and throwing them away when you're done and washing your hands afterwards. 

So we use the word quarantine in a really specific setting. And so usually, your physician or the public health department is going to be the ones that are recommending the practice of quarantine. So quarantine is when you stay home. You aren't leaving for any of your errands. And you really are just staying in the same place for the entire duration of the quarantine period. With the coronavirus, we also have special recommendations for people who are living in the same household as you when you are quarantined to help keep them safe as well as they help care for you. 

So recommendations for people who are living with someone who is being quarantined are to stay separate from the person as much as possible, to be very careful about maintaining good hand washing, and cleaning high-touch surfaces like doorknobs and countertops. When you do need to be in the same room as the individual, mask use is really important as well. 

So that's a lot of contacts there. And it's important for us to get this answered because it's a question we're getting every single day. If you have contact with someone who is known to have a confirmed case of COVID, you will be asked to stay home and watch yourself for symptoms. That is very different than if you have contact with someone who had contact with someone who either does or may have COVID-19. 

Contacts of contacts, or people that are two people removed from an actual case or a possible case, do not need to take any precautions at this time. You have to wait and find out if the person you had contact with develops any symptoms. 

So I want to say this again. If you are two people removed from either a potential or a confirmed case of COVID-19, you need not take any precautions. However, if the person you live with gets sick, then everything changes. In other words, the only reason that you would need to take precautions, stay away from other people, or stay away from work outside of usual social distancing practices that you may be having because of your desire to help slow the spread of this infection. Unless you've had contact with someone who is actually sick with confirmed COVID, you can continue to do your daily life, just under the usual practices for the current situation. 

So school kids catch on to a lot more than I think sometimes we parents acknowledge. And so there is a lot of talk in the schools and among groups of friends about coronavirus and what it means to them. And I think the most important thing to let your children know is that they are going to be fine and safe throughout this. And there's a lot of grownups really working hard to help keep everybody safe. 

But at the same time, there's a really important job that your kids need to do. And that really is some of the social distancing practices that we've been talking about. They and their friends are going to be fine. But we want to keep everybody, especially their parents and their grandparents, safe, so following the rules. 

When there's large group gatherings that are canceled, it's disappointing. But we're doing it for a reason. And everything they can do to practice washing their hands and covering their coughs is really helping keeping everybody in their community safe. 

People who are most at risk of having a bad outcome from coronavirus are not the children, which is wonderful news. However, grandparents, in fact, anyone over the age of 60 has a much higher risk of having a bad outcome. And by bad outcome, I mean needing to be in the hospital, maybe getting so sick that you need to be on a ventilator. Even amongst these people, death is very rare if we can give everyone the level of care that they need. 

However, it's very important at this time that we do everything we can to protect the most vulnerable among us, that is anyone who is older, especially men, people who are smokers, people who have other underlying medical conditions, like even hypertension or high blood pressure and diabetes can put you at higher risk of having a bad outcome, and people who have low immune systems, people with underlying lung disease or who take medicines to make their immune systems not work as well because they have some sort of autoimmune condition or cancer. These are the people who will have the most risk of developing worsening symptoms when they have COVID-19. 

We strongly recommend that these individuals begin curtailing all of their outdoor activities in accordance with the CDC guidelines from last week. These people should not be traveling. These people should not be out in crowds. They should be staying home as much as possible. And if you haven't been instructed to work from home, you should ask about working from home if you are in one of these groups. 

We shouldn't be hunkering down because we're scared. The individual risk to any one of us is low. However, we should be hunkering down because we need to protect those of us who have higher risk. The only way we can do it is by taking these actions. These actions that keep us at home and keep us away from other people are what will protect the people who are the most vulnerable. 

We aren't doing these things out of fear for our own safety I'm going to work from home whenever I can and attend meetings by phone and definitely use my namaste hands when I greet people because I want to protect your mom and my mom and make sure that we save room in our hospitals for them when they need a bed, should they get sick. So we're not doing these things out of fear. We're doing them to protect everyone else. 
Medical professional with gloved hands holding patient's hand

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