How to Help
Community Visitor Guidelines
For More Information
How you can help, contact the UMCH Child Life Program at 410-328-1241.
Thank you for your interest in visiting the University of Maryland Children's Hospital. Community groups play an important part in brightening children's hospital stays and provide a link to home for many children and families. To help your group plan an effective and enjoyable visit for our children, we ask that you observe the following guidelines.
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- All community groups planning to have patient contact are screened in advance
to determine the appropriateness of the visit for hospitalized children. Community
visitors must be screened, approved and scheduled at least 2 weeks
in advance by the Child Life Department. See cover
letter and application for more information.
- Community groups must be accompanied by a Child Life team member throughout
- Due to the nature of the hospital environment and our space limitations,
group size is limited to 6 people. Based on the hospital routine and regularly
scheduled programming, visits will be scheduled to occur Sunday ? Friday
between the hours of 12:30pm-6:30pm. Sunday and evening visits are available
on a limited basis. We are unable to accommodate Saturday visits due to other
- Children in the hospital range in age from newborn to young adult. Please
prepare your visit appropriately for the ages and ability levels of the children.
Children in hospitals frequently have limited attention spans and stamina.
Please be aware that children may need to come and go during your activity
or performance, at times leaving a small group. For example, you may start
with 1 child and end with a group of 6. Groups planning a performance may
want to plan for no longer than 30-45 minutes.
- Content of presentation must be appropriate for children from a variety of
backgrounds. Content should be religiously and politically neutral, and should
not deal with emotionally threatening themes (i.e., illness, death, alcohol/drugs,
separation, sexual innuendos). Keep this in mind with gifts, pamphlets, t-shirts
and other items distributed or worn by the group.
- Children who are recovering from an illness or surgery are susceptible to
contagious illnesses. If any group member has been ill within the last 48
hours, we ask that they not visit. Examples of illnesses include: fever, colds,
unexplained rashes, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, or exposure to chicken pox,
mumps, or measles
- Due to the risk of respiratory or other infections, community groups containing
young children are not allowed. In addition, the hospital environment is typically
frightening for young children. Due to the confidentiality of our patients,
we are unable to explain tubes or equipment to alleviate their fears.
Therefore, if your group contains children under 16 years of age, we ask that
you speak with Child Life staff regarding service projects young children
could work on outside of the hospital setting.
- The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires
us to respect patient confidentiality and privacy. Please
refrain from asking children, families or staff to share information related
to the child?s personal, psychosocial or medical needs. Photographs
and videotapes may not be taken of children and their family members.
Polaroid pictures that remain with the child are allowed. Your interest and
concern for the children at UMCH must be limited to the hospital visit. Please
do not exchange phone numbers or addresses with children.
- Visits will occur in public spaces only out of respect for each child and
family?s right to privacy. If appropriate, professional entertainers
and celebrities may visit children in their rooms as long as the child and
family agrees to the visit.
- The community group will be responsible for providing all
materials for the activity.
- Plans for gifts should be coordinated with the Child Life staff. We ask groups
wanting to bring gifts or favors to provide enough items for all children
(plan for 60). All gifts must be new ? no ?gently used?
items will be accepted as gifts for children. We understand if your group
is unable to provide enough items for all children. In that case, we will
coordinate a time for you to drop off the donation which will be used as gifts
for hospital events such as bingo prizes and birthday gifts.
Donated items not as appropriate for use with children and families in the
hospital or donated in larger quantities than we can distribute and store,
may be used for fundraising purposes with the proceeds going towards child
life resources for children and families within the Children's Hospital.
- Because of infectious disease concerns, we can only accept brand new stuffed
animals. Older stuffed animals, even those sitting on shelves or recently
washed, collect germs that pose a risk of infection to children who are ill
or have struggling immune systems.
- For those groups wishing to distribute food treats, please be aware that
no homemade food, popcorn, or food containing nuts may be given to children.
Store bought treats that are individually wrapped may be appropriate. If you
choose to bring treats, please include a supply of non-food treats for those
children with dietary restrictions. Please coordinate any food treats with
the Child Life staff prior to your visit.
- Only Mylar balloons are allowed ? latex balloons are not allowed due
to the potential for severe allergic reactions and the risk for choking accidents.
- Although media coverage of an event may be appropriate in some cases, it
can cause undue stress for children and families. Before inviting newspapers
or TV stations to cover your visit, please discuss your plans with the Child
Life staff. All media invitations or press releases must be coordinated
with the hospital?s Public Relations department at least 2 weeks in
advance of the visit.
- Visitors should dress in a casual but professional manner. Shorts, mini-skirts,
halter tops, and torn jeans are not permitted. Keep in mind you may be sitting,
standing or bending over. In general, clothing should be well fitting but
loose enough to allow for moving around. Please avoid perfume and colognes.
- If your community group is bringing a costumed character or mascot with
your visit, please inform the Child Life staff per the application process.
Break areas and dressing rooms can be arranged. The children should not see
the character without the costume intact. For the safety of our patients,
costumed characters should not hold children for photographs. Costumes, which
are registered/copyrighted, will not be allowed without proof of designer?s
- Community groups should allow ample time for parking and walking to the hospital
when arriving for their visit. Parking for community groups is available in
the Grand Garage at the corner of Paca St. and Baltimore St. Parking is limited
on the medical campus so we encourage community groups to carpool. A maximum
of three parking vouchers for the Grand Garage will be available per community
group. Directions to the medical campus can be found at www.umm.edu/gethere/
. All groups must check in at the Information Desk in the main lobby and obtain
June 3, 2011.
For more information about UMCH or to make an appointment,
please call 1-866-408-6885 (patients) or 1-800-373-4111 (physicians).