For journalists

University Public Affairs — part of the Division of University Relations — is the public relations arm of the university, leading the news and public information efforts of Virginia Commonwealth University and VCU Health.

It is University Public Affairs policy to be as helpful as possible to news media seeking access to facilities while upholding the university’s mission of teaching, research and patient care, and maintaining the reasonable privacy expectation of students, patients and others.

News media and the public are welcome on VCU campuses, but the public and reporters do not have the right to indiscriminate access to VCU or VCU Health System buildings or other facilities.

Media guidelines — general news

  • Media representatives must arrange interviews and photo shoots with VCU faculty, staff or patients in advance through University Public Affairs.
  • Members of the media may not enter student housing or position themselves at the entrances to student housing. Residence halls are closed to news media except in rare cases with special advance arrangement.
  • A University Public Affairs staff person will accompany any reporters, video crews and photographers while on campus to ensure confidentiality, privacy and appropriate sensitivity to students, patients and families.
  • News media must seek permission from University Public Affairs to set up to videotape or broadcast live from campus and they must park in designated areas. Permission will usually be granted for exterior work as long as it does not interfere with university operations.
    • VCU will sometimes limit television broadcasting to specific locations, such as Monroe Park.
    • A representative from University Public Affairs must be present unless you are notified otherwise.
  • In all circumstances, news media representatives must seek permission to enter or shoot in interior spaces including libraries, classrooms, dining areas, the University Student Commons, administrative buildings, athletic facilities and laboratories.
    • Permission is usually given as long as the reporting activities do not disrupt university activities, interfere with privacy or jeopardize the safety of university personnel, visitors or facilities.

Media guidelines — VCU Health

University Public Affairs staff pay particular attention to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and other regulations involving patient confidentiality. Access to patients is at the discretion of VCU Health.

  • Patients who agree to be interviewed on hospital premises must provide prior written consent and a University Public Affairs representative must be present. Hospital security will remove unauthorized media personnel from VCU Health locations as necessary.
  • Live shots on the medical campus are restricted to 11th and Clay streets. Media will also be staged here during breaking news events.

Emergency department patients

  • University Public Affairs is only able to release general information, such as confirming that victims of a school bus accident were brought to the ER and the range of conditions of the patients. Information about specific patients in the emergency department will not be available.
  • Deaths may be reported only after the patient’s next-of-kin or legal guardian has been notified.
  • Once patients have been admitted to hospital units, they must be identified by name to obtain condition reports.

Patient condition reports

  • If an adult patient is in the hospital directory, a general condition report may be provided to the news media. The condition report may not communicate specific information about the individual, such as age, gender, marital status, occupation, time of admission, hometown, location in the hospital (i.e., ICU) and diagnosis.
  • Information beyond a general condition report will be provided only with the express written consent of the patient or, in the case of a minor, the express written consent of the patient’s parent or guardian.
  • General condition information about patients who are minors will be released only with the permission of the patient’s parent or legal guardian.

Condition information includes the following:

  • Undetermined – Patient is undergoing assessment
  • Good – Stable and progressing/satisfactory and moving toward discharge
  • Fair – Stable/fair
  • Serious – Critical but stable/serious
  • Critical – Patient remains in a life-threatening condition

Nomenclature/proper use of name

  • The correct name of VCU’s overarching medical enterprise is VCU Health.
  • VCU Health comprises four health sciences schools (Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy) and one college (Health Professions), VCU Medical Center, Community Memorial Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, VCU Massey Cancer Center, MCV Physicians and Virginia Premier.
  • The correct name of the downtown Richmond hospital location is VCU Medical Center.
  • The hospital is governed by VCU Health System.
  • Medical students are educated at the VCU School of Medicine.