A new coding system in hospitals.

I ran across an interesting story over the weekend. It actually was a follow-up to an article that had appeared in The Free Lance-Star, a newspaper in Fredericksburg, Va. Written by the newspaper's health reporter, the article told of an unfortunate side effect of a restriction on visitors that apparently was put into effect at a number of hospitals in the state.

The hospitals are using a "green/yellow/red" coding system to indicate who may visit a healthcare facility. Yellow means no one under 18 is allowed to visit, and red mean only immediate family may visit, and only two visitors at a time.

Jim Hall wrote, "A friend was surprised to find that she was welcome in Mary Washington Hospital recently but that her 16-year-old son was not. The two were headed to the hospital cafeteria when a security guard intercepted them near the front door."

Hall reported that his friend had known about the restriction but thought it pertains only to patient areas of the hospital. The Mary Washington cafeteria is located in the basement of the building.

That made me wonder whether this was a case of an overzealous security guard or a policy that could have a negative impact on foodservice operations. Assistant editor Becky Schilling will be checking on how hospitals are dealing with the threat of the H1N1 virus. We'd love to hear from all operators, healthcare and other. What procedures are you putting in place to protect staff, patients, employees, etc., from the "swine flu" virus?

E-mail me at pking@foodservicedirector.com. In particular we'd like to hear from hospital directors about visitor restrictions at your institutions and in what ways foodservice might be affected.

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