As Hospitals Combat Enterovirus Outbreaks, Patients and Families Turn to “Virtual Visits” with CaringBridge

Eagan, Minn., (September 30, 2014) — For most families, fall means back-to-school pictures and weekend trips to the apple orchard, pumpkin patch or annual festival. For millions of children, fall also means peak season for fast-spreading viruses – like the respiratory infection Enterovirus D68.

While symptoms mimic the common cold in most children, a small percentage – especially children with weakened immune systems – can develop more severe symptoms. Increased concern about the Enterovirus is prompting hospitals across the country to enact visitor restrictions.

According to Dr. Giovanni Piedimonte, chairman of the Cleveland Clinic Pediatric Institute and physician-in-chief at Cleveland Clinic Children’s, the virus is transmitted by contact. “No vaccine or other prevention is available to protect against Enterovirus D68. Also, once the infection starts, no therapy has been shown to be effective,” he says. Piedimonte was interviewed by Cleveland Clinic’s HealthHub blog about the Enterovirus D68.

But the restrictions, intended to reduce the spread of viruses, do not mean that patients have to feel isolated. With CaringBridge, patients and their loved ones can create their own virtual hospital room on Patients and families can minimize their own risk by gathering virtually with loved ones to exchange health updates, well-wishes and messages of love and support. Setting up a personal CaringBridge website takes just a few minutes.

“Love and support play an important role in healing,” says Sona Mehring, founder and CEO of CaringBridge. “Our services enable patients to stay connected with their loved ones, even when the hospital needs to put limits on in-person visits.”

Over half a million CaringBridge websites have been created since the nonprofit was founded in 1997.

CaringBridge offers multiple features to simplify communication, including:
• A Planner – an online calendar to help coordinate tasks – incorporated into individual CaringBridge websites, giving people one location to learn about and offer hands-on help to their loved one.
• Pre-created Guestbook messages called CarePosts® that make it easier for people visiting from a mobile device to quickly leave a caring message.
• Enhanced photo, video and commenting capabilities.
• Private messaging.
• Individual profiles for all users to share information about themselves and easily track the websites they author and/or visit.
• Responsive design to provide a user-friendly experience across devices.

Providing a safe place to connect with loved ones during a health journey continues to be a key focus for CaringBridge. “News and updates are as private as you make them or as public as you want them to be. You can select a customized security setting to control who can go to your website, in a completely ad-free environment,” says Mehring.

About CaringBridge
CaringBridge is a nonprofit offering many ways for people to care for each other during any type of health event. Its mission is to amplify the love, hope and compassion in the world, making each health journey easier. For more information, visit