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COVID – 19 VISITATION

Updated: August 19, 2021
Author: Cindy Brown

Visiting Hours:

Monday – Friday:
1pm – 7pm (last entry at 6:45pm)

Saturday and Sunday:
9am – 2pm (last entry at 1:45pm)

Policy:

Separation of patients and their loved ones during a hospitalization can cause significant stress and anxiety, and the opportunity to visit hospitalized patients must be done in a manner that continues to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and ensure the health and wellbeing of patients, staff, and visitors. In recognition of this need to ensure a safe environment of care for our patients, staff and community in general, hospital visitation will be:

Two visitors per patient per day

Mon-Fri 1PM-7PM with last entry 6:45PM

Sat-Sun 9AM-2PM with last entry 1:45PM

Purpose:

The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) issued visitor limitation guidance to hospitals to protect and maintain the health and safety of both patients and staff during the ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

All visitors must adhere to the following policies and practices:

  • Visitors must wear face coverings at all times.
  • Visitors may be provided with and asked to wear additional appropriate personal protective equipment, depending on the disease the patient has, as recommended by the Department, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and hospital policy.
  • Visitors must be advised regarding how to perform meticulous hand hygiene and how to wear the PPE and must adhere to such procedures.
  • Visitors who fail to wear a mask and other PPE will be asked to leave the facility.
  • Visitors must undergo symptom and temperature checks upon entering the facility and shall be denied entry if they report significant COVID-19 exposure or symptoms during the prior 10 days or have a temperature equal to or greater than 100.0 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Once in the facility, visitors must remain in the patient’s room throughout the visit except when directed by hospital staff to leave during aerosol-generating procedures or other procedures during which visitors are usually asked to leave.
  • All visitors must be greater than 12 years of age except in rare exceptions as determined by the house supervisor

Hospitals must

  • Provide written information to visitors and/or discuss the potential risks and benefits of the visitor’s presence with the visitor and, depending upon the patient’s condition, the patient.
  • Collect name and contact information for visitors, the date(s) of their visits, and the name of the patient(s) visited and maintain this information in an electronic format.

In addition, hospitals will ensure that following allowances are made at a minimum:

Labor and Delivery

Visitor/supports including a doula if requested, may accompany the patient throughout labor, delivery, and the postpartum period, including recovery, until discharge to home. The support persons can be the patient’s spouse, partner, sibling, parent, or other persons of their choice.

Pediatrics

Pediatric patients may have two designated support persons with them at all times with additional visitors during visiting hours.

Patients with Intellectual and/or Developmental Disabilities (I/DD)

Patients with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (I/DD) and patients with cognitive impairments including dementia, may designate a support person to remain with them through their hospitalization. Additional visitors may also be with the patient during hospital-designated visiting hours.

End of life situations

For patients in imminent end-of-life situations, support/visitors will be allowed at all times.

Same-Day Procedures

Patients undergoing same-day procedures may be accompanied to the facility by one companion and that companion may remain in a hospital-designated waiting area if space permits or outside the building until the patient is ready to be discharged.

COVID-19 patients and PUI’s (patients under investigation for COVID-19)

Patients that are positive for Covid-19 and PUI’s (patients under investigation for Covid-19) will not be allowed visitors. Temporary visitation may be granted for patients in extenuating circumstances, such as imminent end-of-life and/or a specific patient needing extra support. Staff will instruct visitor on proper application of PPE (personal protection equipment). This temporary allowance of visitation will be continuously evaluated and if circumstances improve visitor may be asked to leave.

Use alternate methods of communication for patients in the hospital as appropriate to individual patient ability and medical status (audio, visual). This may include use of electronic devices with video ability that are hospital owned, or patient owned devices. CDC recommendations for cleaning will occur after each patient use.

HIPAA Considerations

The HIPAA Privacy Rule allows patient information to be shared to assist in nationwide public health emergencies, and to assist patients in receiving the care they need. This is important to consider when visitation is suspended and use of alternative remote methods of communication with family and friends is utilized.

Under Pandemic Public Health Crisis hospitals will not be penalized for failing to comply with HIPAA and the following requirements are waived to facilitate communication and patient care.

  • to obtain a patient’s agreement to speak with family members or friends involved in the patient’s care • the requirement to honor a request to opt out of the facility directory
  • the requirement to distribute a notice of privacy practices
  • the patient’s right to request privacy restrictions
  • the patient’s right to request confidential communications

The HIPAA Privacy Rule for releasing the minimum necessary for the care and treatment of a patient remains. Should detailed or complex medical information need to be relayed to a patient’s family or friend, medical staff should make effort to directly convey this information.

 

References: HIPAA requirements found in 45 CFR NYSDOH Health Advisory March 18, 2020 update March 21, 2020 and update April 10, 2020. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Coronavirus Disease 2019 Guidance.  NYS DOH Health Advisory on Visitation, March 18, 2020, March 21, 2020 and April 10, 2020 and June 17, 2020.

Any person with questions or concerns regarding the COVID – 19 visitation restriction policy will be referred to leadership.

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