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Isolating patients to prevent the spread of infections

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What is isolation?

Sometimes a child or teen must be cared for in an isolation room. This can happen when your child has an infection that could spread to other patients, staff or visitors. When more than one child has an infection caused by the same bacteria or virus, they may be placed in the same room together. We know it can be frustrating, but children and teens in isolation can’t leave their room, except for tests. We appreciate your help with this.

Depending on the infection, visitors and staff may have to wear gowns, gloves, or masks when inside the isolation room.

Who needs isolation?

  1. Any child or teen with an illness that is contagious will be isolated. This may happen as soon as your child is admitted, or after your child has been in hospital for a bit. It is quite common in children’s hospitals to have patients cared for in isolation rooms.
  2. Parents or other caregivers. Those in close contact with a child or teen in isolation will carry the virus or bacteria on their hands, even if they are not sick themselves. So it’s important for parents to stay in the isolation room as much as possible. Visiting other areas of the ward or hospital when your child has a contagious infection can spread the infection to other patients, visitors and staff.

Clean hands! 

Everyone (CHEO staff, volunteers and all visitors) must clean their hands with soap and water or alcohol hand gel every time they enter and leave any patient room, even if it is not an isolation room.

How long will my child be in an isolation room?

Your child will stay in isolation until the risk of spreading the infection is gone. Our doctors, nurses and Infection Prevention and Control team will assess your child to decide when isolation is no longer needed.

Visiting a child or teen in isolation

Parents, caregivers and CHEO staff must work together to prevent the spread of infections. We will post signs outside every room where a child is being isolated, that will tell you what you need to do before entering and after leaving the room. Talk to your child’s nurse if you’re not sure about what to do.

Before entering the room, you must:

  • Clean your hands with soap and water or alcohol based hand gel for 15 seconds

Before leaving the room (for any reason):

  • Remove mask and gloves if you are wearing them and put them in the garbage
  • Clean your hands with soap and water or alcohol based hand gel for 15 seconds

If your child is in isolation:

  1. Only the adults who received parent passes when your child was admitted can visit, and only 2 at a time. Speak with your nurse if you’d like other visitors.
  2. Stay home if you are sick. Anyone with fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat, diarrhea, vomiting, or a new rash should stay home.
  3. Stay in the room with your child as much as possible. Because parents caring for a child often carry the bacteria or virus on their hands, it’s important to limit walking around the ward and hospital as much as possible.
  4. Disinfect items you use in the isolation room (like breast pumps). We have Virox wipes you can use. Ask your nurse how to do this.
  5. Don’t share things like highchairs or toys with your child’s room mate.
  6. Keep things tidy. This makes it easier for us to clean the room properly. Use parent lockers for coats and extra personal items to cut down on clutter in the room.

What about toys?

Viruses and bacteria can live on toys for a long time, so please don’t share toys, books or other items with others inside or outside the isolation room. To control the spread of infections, we limit the number of toys from the playroom that go into isolation rooms. Please bring a few of your child’s favourite toys from home.

Using common areas

Staying with your child in hospital means you’ll need to use common areas like bathrooms and kitchens. Here’s how you can prevent infections from spreading to others when you use these areas.

First, make sure to wash your hands before leaving your child’s room.


We have refrigerators you can use if you’d like to bring food from home. When you take food from the fridge into your child’s room, you can’t bring it back. You’ll need to throw away anything you or your child don’t eat.


  • If your child is in a single room with a bathroom, you should use the bathroom in your child’s room
  • If your child is in a double room (more than one bed), you must use the public bathrooms  
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