The NYS Dept of Health released the long-awaited guidelines for allowing family and support members to visit patients in hospitals. Although the limitations for such visits were lifted several weeks ago, the Dept. of Health had not notified the hospitals what is expected until the release of the guidelines on Wednesday, June 17.
After acknowledging how the separation of patients and their loved ones during a hospitalization causes significant stress and anxiety, the Dept. of Health stressed that visitations must be done in a manner that prevents the spread of COVID-19 and that ensure the health and wellbeing of patients, staff, and visitors.
A pilot hospital visitation program was initiated in 21 hospitals across the state on May 26, 2020, and the Department of Health notified hospitals that, statewide, visitation to all hospitals will be permitted beginning June 19.
Hospitals have the option of allowing or limiting visits based on their COVID-19 patient load, but are still required to comply with the policies on allowing support persons for pediatrics, childbirth and patients with an intellectual, developmental, or other cognitive disability.
The new guidelines for visitations include limiting visitors to those age 18 or over, allowing for a stay of no more than four hours per day per patient, and permitting only one person at a time unless otherwise authorized by the hospital, depending on the patient’s status and condition.
Patients undergoing same-day procedures may be accompanied to the facility by a companion who may remain with the patient through the initial intake process, and rejoin the patient for the discharge process. The visitors may not be present during procedures and recovery room except for pediatrics, childbirth, and patients with an intellectual, developmental, or other cognitive disability.
All visitors are to be provided with and must wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), and must be advised how to perform meticulous hand hygiene and how to wear the PPE. Refusal to comply will be grounds to be asked to leave the facility. In addition, symptom and temperature checks will be performed upon entering the facility, and those who had significant COVID-19 exposure or symptoms during the prior 14 days or have a temperature equal to or greater than 100.0 degrees Fahrenheit will be denied entry.
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.