What to Expect at the Hospital and Emergency Department

At Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), our priority is to provide high-quality, safe and effective care to all our patients and families.

Measles cases are increasing in the community and viral illnesses are on the rise. For the protection of our patients, families, visitors and staff, the following guidelines apply to all CHOP locations at this time:

Masks are required for:

  • All Emergency Department spaces (entrance, hallways, waiting rooms, exam rooms, bathrooms) on both CHOP campuses.
  • Anyone with fever or respiratory symptoms (cough, runny nose or sore throat) in all CHOP locations. Masks must be worn in waiting rooms, exam rooms, and all other public areas.

Masks are strongly recommended for:

  • All patients, families and visitors in all public areas, including waiting rooms and hallways.
  • Immunocompromised or high-risk individuals (per CDC guidelines) in all settings.

Masks are always available for anyone who wants to wear one. If you need a mask, please ask a staff member for assistance.

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.

Right care, right place

Getting patients directed to the right level of care from the start of their illness helps reduce wait times for everyone so that we can focus on the most serious medical emergencies that need emergency care.

If you’re unsure whether your child’s symptoms can be managed at home or require a trip to the emergency room, try our symptom checker as a starting point. This can help determine what type of medical care your child may need, if any, or if their symptoms can be managed at home.

We have created this library of information and resources to help you prevent common bugs and treat your child's illness at home when it is appropriate to do so. Save this page to return to when you need it!

Remember, you are always the best judge of your child's needs. Do not hesitate to go to an Emergency Room if you think your child is experiencing an emergency.

What to expect in our Emergency Department

To make sure the sickest children or those with the most serious injuries have fast access to safe, effective care, patients may not be seen in the order they arrive.

Some patients may be sicker than they look. As a result, they may be seen before your child, even if they have not waited as long.

Due to the unpredictable nature of emergency medicine, we are not able to provide estimated wait times for patients. Please let us know if your child’s condition changes.  

We recommend you bring any food, drinks, toys or entertainment necessary to make your wait as comfortable as possible, and please follow our current visitor guidelines.

Get more details about what to expect when you arrive and while you wait:

Visitor guidelines

Who can visit

We understand how important the presence of families and visitors are to the health and well-being of our patients and families. We continually review and adjust our visitation policies. At this time, in continued efforts to keep our patients, families and staff safe from COVID-19 and other respiratory viral infections, our limited visitor policy is in place. 

Please review these guidelines carefully before coming to one of our hospitals or Emergency Departments. 

Respecting each other

CHOP is a place of healing and compassion. As we navigate this challenging time together, we expect our patients, families and staff to act in a respectful manner — allowing everyone to be part of the conversation.

Inappropriate language, discriminatory slurs, threats and/or aggressive behavior will not be tolerated.

Your child’s health and safety are our top priority, along with the safety of our staff and of everyone in our facilities. We appreciate your patience and thank you for trusting us with your child’s care.

Ensuring everyone’s safety: Important reminders for while you’re here

Hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette

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

Staff precautions

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 in direct contact with patients.

Other staff safety recommendations include 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 and mask upon return to work for 10 days following the onset of respiratory symptoms. Staff are also required to self-monitor for symptoms and report any illness that may develop while at work.

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

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.

Updated: January 6, 2024


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