Protecting Against COVID-19 at Family House
** A SPECIAL NOTE FROM JANICE McADAMS, FAMILY HOUSE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ON MARCH 26, 2020 **
Nothing is more important to us than our mission to responsibly serve patients and caregivers. During the COVID-19 outbreak, this means preventing viral transmission and taking active measures to safeguard their health. Because the best action we can take right now to serve patients and caregivers is to not serve them as guests, we must temporarily close Family House effective Wednesday, April 1, 2020.
We have not unilaterally made the difficult decision to temporarily close. We have worked in close collaboration with our partner in mission, UNC Health, over the past weeks to adjust our operations and now to make the decision to temporarily close to protect not only our immune-compromised guests, but also our hundreds of volunteers, staff, and the larger community, all vulnerable to COVID-19.
What does this mean for those staying at Family House right now? Only a quarter of our guest rooms are currently occupied, reflecting the high number of hospital visit cancellations at UNC Health last week. For the few remaining patients staying here now, we're closely working with their clinical teams to identify suitable accommodations well before April 1, the day Family House temporarily closes. We are doing everything in our power to make this an easy transition for them.
Please note that there is no identifiable corona virus at the House, nor is there a financial concern causing this temporary closure.
We're providing regular COVID-19-related updates on our website here, and our partner UNC Health is providing expansive resources as well.
We will reopen our doors to guests as soon as it is deemed safe to do so. We truly appreciate your understanding as we work to prevent the detrimental outcome that would result from the spread of COVID-19 at Family House.
In the meantime, please visit our Virtual Community Page and stay connected with us. Together we are family, near and far.
Current as of 3.25.2020, to be updated as necessary
We're committed to maintaining our healthy environment here at SECU Family House at UNC Hospitals. To keep you safe, we're implementing important operational changes to limit the risk of COVID-19 potentially entering our space. We strive to update this page as the situation evolves. You can find up-to-date information about novel coronovirus on UNC Health's dedicated webpage.
Our ongoing goal is to be true to our mission by serving patients and caregivers while ensuring a safe and healthy environment for everyone at the House. Our staff is busy behind the scenes maintaining our essential services, specifically housekeeping. To safeguard the health of the immune-compromised guests residing here, we have made the tough decision to temporarily end the pet therapy, music, crafting, and meal providing volunteer programs, along with our other volunteer activities; this measure also protects our volunteers from possibly encountering COVID-19, should it enter the House.
On the advice of UNC Health, access to Family House is restricted to currently registered guests and the staff providing essential services. This means we are no longer accepting new guests. This is a difficult decision our leadership has made in order to safeguard the health of our current guests - which is our very mission as an organization. Please note:
- Visitors are NOT allowed inside the House. We are asking guests to alert their network of this change so that loved ones do not make a trip to Family House in vain.
- The front door will remain locked 24 hours per day. Guests should use their keycard to gain entry.
- Staff members are required to answer the screening question* in the negative before entering the House
- Business vendors must leave their deliveries outside of the House. They are not permitted inside.
- Local support groups are not permitted to use the board room or other spaces in Family House until further notice.
- We encourage everyone to practice cleanliness by regularly and thoroughly washing their hands; avoiding touching their face; often sanitizing screens and other high-touch surfaces; and making use of the hand sanitizers and other disinfectants regularly stocked around the House.
*Screening Question as of March 17, 2020: Do you have a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or other respiratory symptom? If the answer is yes, you are not permitted into Family House.
Anyone who develops symptoms of COVID-19 must alert the House Manager, self-quarantine, and call the UNC COVID Hotline for additional screening and guidance at 1-888-850-2684. Symptoms to note include having a fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath.
Please know that we're doing everything possible to care for you and our environment here at the House, and we sincerely appreciate your cooperation in keeping our collective home virus-free. Please continue referring to this webpage to stay up-to-date with any necessary operational changes.
** A SPECIAL NOTE FROM JANICE McADAMS, FAMILY HOUSE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ON MARCH 6, 2020 **
In anticipation of the question on everyone’s mind, SECU Family House’s executive team reached out to our Board President Dr. Ian Buchanan (President of Ambulatory Care at UNC Health) and Chair of the Medical Advisory Committee Dr. Thomas Shea (former director of the Bone Marrow Transplant Program at UNC Health). Their recommendations, which are consistent with the CDC recommendations, are as follows:
1. BE CALM (be calm, be calm)
2. Wash your hands often (20 seconds under warm water with soap)
3. Refrain from touching your face (mouth, nose, eyes)
4. Avoid close contact with people who have cold or flu symptoms
5. If you are NOT sick, there is no need to wear a mask (Indeed, this could put you more at risk as you’re more likely to touch your face adjusting a mask that is NOT protecting you).
6. If you are sick with cold or flu symptoms, stay home and call your medical provider for advice on treatment. If you must go out when sick, a mask may be helpful in preventing your germs from spreading to others.
UNC Health has instituted a policy of screening all who come to clinic or ER by asking if they have any symptoms of respiratory distress and if they have traveled internationally within the last few weeks (these are the most significant risk factors). If things progress, they may implement other measures.
We will keep you informed if advice from our experts and the CDC changes. Our goal at Family House is to take care of our guests, volunteers, and staff. For now, please follow items 1 through 6 above and use common sense.