UF Health Shands Hospital Patient Guide: Visiting Hours, Calling a Patient & Welcome Centers

Starting March 9, anyone visiting a patient at the UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital or the UF Health Shands Pediatric E.R. must obtain a visitor’s badge. These badges are available at our information desks. You must present a government-issued photo ID to receive a badge. Please note that our COVID-19 visitor guidelines still apply.

COVID-19 Visitation

To help minimize the spread of COVID-19, we have temporarily changed our visitation policy at UF Health hospitals and emergency rooms in Gainesville. Limiting visitors helps us reduce the risk of infection. People who have signs and symptoms of illness, including fever, cough or shortness of breath, are asked not to visit patients. We’re reminding everyone to practice excellent infection control by covering your mouth when you cough, washing your hands and using hand sanitizer frequently.

For our current COVID-19 Visitation Policy, visit coronavirus.ufhealth.org

Calling a Patient

For a visitor calling to reach an inpatient at UF Health Shands Hospital, UF Health Shands Cancer Hospital or UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital, please call the main hospital operator at 352-265-0111, provide the patient’s first and last name and ask to be connected to the patient’s room.  If the patient in question has not opted out of the hospital directory as a privacy preference, the operator will be able to connect the caller.

Stay Connected: Tips for virtual visitation 

For everybody’s safety during the COVID-19 response, UF Health has taken the responsible step to limit visitors to our hospitals. Meanwhile, we appreciate that staying connected to loved ones can have a positive impact on a patient’s health and well-being. And it’s important for family and friends to stay in touch and aware of a patient’s status throughout their care. Thanks to today’s internet and social media tools, virtual communication is easier than ever.

In-Room Phone

Remember, patients can use their hospital bedside phone to visit with loved ones if they don’t have access to a smartphone, tablet or laptop.

Free Wi-Fi

While on-site at UF Health, use our free Wi-Fi. It’s available in patient rooms, lobbies, waiting rooms, dining areas and terraces. No password is needed. Just read and accept the “Acceptable Use Policy” to connect. Select this network: ufhealthguest

Free Tools and Apps

Consider using some of the following tools and apps on your personal smartphone, tablet or other device. Data charges may apply if you’re not using our free Wi-Fi.

  • Email
  • Texts
  • Applications downloaded from the App Store (Apple) or Play Store (Android). 

How to Connect



If your smartphone, tablet or laptop has a camera, you may already have some of the following apps installed. Note: Both people communicating will need to download the same application. Most apps are free to download. 

Face-to-face on your smartphone and devices (requires a camera on both devices):

  • FaceTime (Apple)
  • Google Duo (Android) 

Connect with video, voice or text via the internet or on a device:

  • Facebook Messenger (messenger.com)
  • Google Hangouts (hangouts.google.com)
  • WhatsApp (whatsapp.com)
  • Skype (skype.com)
  • Google Duo (duo.google.com)
  • Signal Private Messenger (signal.org)


If you plan to use the camera/video feature with the app you’ve chosen, make sure you’re connected to the internet.  

For Apple Devices: FaceTime

  • In your device’s contact list, select the person and then select the video icon at the top of the contact screen. OR: Open FaceTime and select the “+” (plus) button, start typing the person’s name and select it when it appears.
  • If you do not have the person’s information stored in your contacts, in FaceTime, select the “+” (plus) button and type in their phone number or email address, hit “return” and you’ll be ready.
  • Once the contact appears in the “To” field, tap the phone icon to make a voice call or the camera icon to video chat.

For Android Devices: Google Duo

  • Select “search contacts or dial”
  • If you have the person saved in your contacts, begin to type their name and select it when it appears.
  • If you do not have the person’s information stored in your contacts, type in their phone number or email address, then select them.
  • You can then select from the options to make a voice call, video chat or message them.
  • If you see the option to “invite,” it means the other person does not have Google Duo installed on their device and they may not be able to connect with you.