What to Expect at the Main Hospital and Emergency Department During COVID-19

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Please note that because we are a healthcare facility, all eligible visitors, even if fully vaccinated, need to wear their masks at all times in all of our facilities and locations. Thank you for partnering with us to keep our patients safe.

Due to an earlier viral infection season than usual and high patient volumes, we are experiencing delays in appointment scheduling, wait times and test results. We apologize for this inconvenience and are working hard to fix these issues. Thank you for your patience. If you need a COVID-19 test, please use community testing resources instead of coming to the ER. That helps free us up to care for serious medical emergencies. Find a CHOP COVID testing site here.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, CHOP has remained steadfast in our commitment to provide the safe healthcare your child needs. Here is some information about the precautions in place in the hospital and Emergency Department to keep you, your children and our staff safe.

If you're looking for information related to outpatient visits at one of our Care Network locations (primary, specialty or urgent care), read more here.

Preparing for a visit to our Philadelphia Campus? Watch this video for a snapshot of what to expect when you get here:

Reduced parent, caregiver and sibling entry

In continued efforts to keep our patients, families and staff safe from COVID-19 and other respiratory viral infections, the following guidelines are in place. 

For inpatient visits at the hospital:

  • No more than four healthy people age 12 and older are allowed to visit a patient during a hospital stay. We strongly recommend that only one of these visitors accompany your child at the bedside at a time. No more than two individuals at a time will be permitted
  • All four pre-determined visitors must be identified at the time of admission and must remain the same during the entire hospital admission.
  • Two of these four people should be the parents/legal guardians (age 18 and older), unless the parents/legal guardians identify a designee based on the family’s situation. These 2 designated people may sleep at the bedside and stay 24 hours a day. Please consider alternating who stays with your child, staying for at least 24 hours at a time, so that only one adult is present whenever possible. Reducing the number of health adults coming in and out of the hospital is an important de reducing the spread of COVID-19. 
  • The other two of the four visitors may be chosen at the discretion of the patient and/or family to best support them. These two pre-determined visitors are allowed during visiting hours, between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.
  • For safety reasons, siblings under age 12 are not permitted to visit patients who are admitted to the hospital at this time (with the exception of breastfeeding infants). If a sibling age 12 years or older is identified as one of the patient’s designated visitors, they may visit between the hours of 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.

For visits to the Emergency Department or other outpatient visits at the hospital:

  • No more than two healthy people are allowed to accompany a patient. However, in the continued efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our patients who remain unvaccinated, we recommend that only one healthy parent/legal guardian accompany the patient at any time.
  • For non-emergency outpatient visits, a sibling may be the second person accompanying the patient and the patient’s legal guardian. Any sibling age 2 and older is required to wear a mask, and must be healthy and will be screened upon arrival, just like adult visitors.
  • If you need to urgently bring your child to the Emergency Department, please ask a friend, family member or adult caregiver to help you take care of other children. Breastfeeding infants are permitted to be present with their parent.

Parents/legal guardians and other designated visitors must be healthy (without fever, cough or other concerning symptoms), and cannot have testing pending for COVID-19. If both parents/legal guardians are not healthy, we recommend identifying an alternate caregiver or partnering with our staff to support your child. We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause. 

Read more about who can enter CHOP locations and other frequently asked questions »

Your safety: Cleaning, screening, testing, masks and more

You will receive a call from one of our CHOP nurses or staff 24 hours or more before your child’s scheduled admission, procedure or surgery with further information that is specific to your child. We will let you know at that time if there are extra precautions you need to take when coming to CHOP.

When you come to CHOP, please allow extra time to travel to the hospital and reach your destination while maintaining physical distancing. Also, please bring as few belongings as possible for admissions to reduce clutter. 


We continue to follow all CDC guidelines for cleaning and have all the necessary supplies to properly perform cleaning and disinfection. 

We use only cleaning products that are effective against the virus that causes COVID 19. Cleaning of our facilities, including operating rooms, waiting rooms and patient rooms, is performed in accordance with infection control guidelines with frequent quality assurance checks by our Environment Services Department.

Screening and testing for COVID-19

Screening allows us to provide the best experience and care possible, considering factors like room placement, procedure timing, and isolation and precautions.

When a visit is scheduled and again upon arrival, all patients, parents and caregivers are asked screening questions about symptoms and possible exposures. In addition, we ask all parents and caregivers, even if fully vaccinated, to wear a mask upon entering CHOP locations.

These screenings are completed upon entry and admission, as well as at the bedside daily. Sick parents/caregivers and visitors are not allowed to stay at the hospital.  

We conduct testing for COVID-19 infection according to CDC guidelines. Currently, we test:

  • All patients admitted to CHOP prior to their inpatient stay
  • All patients undergoing surgery and some procedures

We also have several COVID-19 testing sites throughout the community. Schedule a COVID test here.

Masks for everyone over 2

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still recommends that masks be worn in all healthcare facilities.

We still have many patients who are not vaccinated and are at higher risk for disease. In order to keep them safe (along with their families and our staff), we ask all parents/caregivers and visitors, even if they are fully vaccinated, to continue to wear well-fitted masks over their mouths and noses while they are at any CHOP location. This includes all parents/caregivers, visitors, and patients over 2 years old. Please let us know if your child has a hard time wearing a mask.

Parents/caregivers and visitors need to wear their masks at all times in our facilities, including in your child’s room when a staff member is present. Caregivers do not need to wear their mask while they sleep or eat. We will supply non-medical masks or you can bring one from home. Thank you for partnering with us.

Remember not all masks provide effective protection against COVID-19. All masks should have two layers of cloth that fit tightly over your nose and mouth. It is also important to wear your mask properly, covering both your mouth and nose.

Effective Masks and Masking: Cloth Masks and Medical Masks. Masks must cover both nose and mouth.
Ineffective Masks and Masking: Bandanas, Neck Gators, Valved Masks. Wearing mask with nose, or both nose and mouth exposed is also ineffective.

Hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette

Please help us prevent the spread of germs by practicing good hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette, including frequent handwashing, covering coughs and cleaning surfaces such as phones.

Physical distancing

While you are traveling to and from and within our facilities, we ask you to please stay at least 6 feet away from others.

We have reconfigured waiting rooms and public spaces to promote physical distancing of 6 feet, while still providing enough spaces for families to sit. We have posted signage reminding everyone to physically distance and practice good hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette, including covering your cough. Parents/caregivers and visitors should maintain a safe physical distance of at least 6 feet away from others, even when masked.

Staff precautions: Masks, gloves, eye protection

The most important precaution we take is hand hygiene. You will see this at all times during your interactions with staff. All staff are also required to wear masks while at work as part of our universal masking policy.

During your child’s care, we may use different personal protective equipment (PPE) — including face masks, respirators, eye coverage, gowns and gloves — depending on the possible exposure of bodily fluids. If you don’t see us wearing gloves it most likely means there is no chance of exposure to bodily fluids. Our providers are able to keep their hands clean with access to hand sanitizer throughout all of our clinical areas.

The use of PPE does not replace our other safety recommendations, including universal masking, physically distancing, and staying home when ill. CHOP’s employee sick policy requires that any ill staff member must stay home from work if they are feeling sick. Staff are required to self-monitor for symptoms and report any illness that may develop while at work.

Minimize your interactions in groups/crowds

We ask that you minimize time in crowds and group interactions as you move throughout the hospital. Group therapy and other group sessions will be adjusted appropriately to maintain a safe environment.

Please reduce your travel within our facilities as much as possible and physically distance when in elevators, hallways and other public spaces.

We encourage you to use our room service which is available for patients and families in most areas of the hospital. Please call 4-FOOD from your child's room phone for more information.

Virtual interactions with our care team

Just as we have restricted the number of visitors to our facilities, we have also asked some of our staff to work remotely. We have carefully considered which roles are able to do this and maintain safety and our services.

You may interact with some of our care team by phone or other means. We are committed to making sure you have access to staff and the resources you need during your time here with us. We continue to be appropriately staffed onsite and those staff are prepared to assist you with any needs you have.

Status of patient and family public spaces

We understand that during this stressful time it can be helpful to access other public areas of the hospital. In order to keep our patients and families safe we have closed some areas and limited hours on others.

These are the hospital spaces that are currently closed:

  • Schlimm Center (our Prayer and Meditation Space).
  • Safety Center Store on the 1st floor of the Wood Building. Please call 267-426-5000.
  • Lori’s Gift Shop on 1st floor of the Wood Building

You will find the following areas open with limited hours or number of people. We ask that you practice physical distancing while interacting in these spaces, and use hand hygiene before and after you visit:

  • Main Cafeteria (space has been reconfigured for physical distancing)
  • Lori’s Gift Shop in the Main Hospital (maximum of five people)
  • Pharmacy on the 1st floor of the Main Hospital (maximum of three people)
  • Connelly Center (maximum of five people)
  • Buerger 6th floor Roof Garden (maximum of three families at a time)
  • Lactation rooms in the Main Hospital on the 1st, 2nd, 5th, 7th and 8th floors and in the Wood Building on the 3rd Floor. Lactation rooms are for pumping and breastfeeding individuals only and should be used one person at a time. Instructions for mandatory disinfection between uses are posted in the lactation rooms.

If you are anxious or frightened to bring your child to the hospital

We understand that you may be anxious about coming into the hospital. Emotional reactions or feelings of anxiety are natural. Please continue to ask us questions or tell us about your concerns. If you find you need more support/help please contact one of the following resources:

  • Your primary care provider
  • Philadelphia 24-Hour Mental Health Delegate Line: 215-685-6440
  • Emotional PA Department of Health (DOH) statewide hotline 1-877-PA-HEALTH
  • PADOH statewide coronavirus hotline 1-877-PA-HEALTH
  • Greater Philadelphia coronavirus hotline 1-800-722-7112
  • NJ statewide coronavirus hotline 1-800-222-1222

Updated: Aug. 26, 2021

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