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Visitation Guidelines - effective 11/11/20
In alignment with the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), St. Lawrence Health System has taken precautions to protect and maintain the health and safety of patients and staff during the COVID-19 outbreak to prevent the introduction of this infection into the hospitals. Visitation within hospitals has been modified, given the risk of COVID-19 in the healthcare setting. Healthcare providers should thoroughly discuss the potential risks and benefits of a visitor’s and support person’s presence at the bedside with the patient, visitor, and support person, if possible.
Visitor: An individual who is a guest of the patient. Family members are considered to be visitors as well, when not fulfilling the role of a support person.
Support Person: An individual who is in a support role for a patient or who is legally responsible for making health care decisions on behalf of a patient. This may include family members, friends, or another individual who is there to support the patient.
Who Is, and How Many Are Allowed to Visit
Permitting the following exceptions:
- Obstetrics: Hospitals have revised their visitation policies, allowing the patient to designate one support person to be present during labor, delivery, and the remaining duration of their stay based on clinical guidance and as medically appropriate. The support individual must be free of COVID-19 symptoms before entering the labor and delivery area and adhere to facility guidelines.
Visitation on postpartum/antepartum units is now expanded with up to two visitors, but only one visitor may be present at a time. Limited hours for visitors as determined by site. (This expanded visitation is not permitted if the patient or support individual is positive for COVID-19).
- For patients in imminent end-of-life situations, one family member, clergy, and/or legal representative may be a support person. The patient and/or family/caregiver may designate up to two support people, and two support people may be present at a time. In the event the patient is a parent of a minor child, one adult family member and one child may be permitted at the patient bedside.
- For patients for whom a support person has been determined to be essential to the care of the patient (medically necessary), including patients with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (I/DD), and patients with cognitive impairments, including advanced dementia, two support people may be designated, and one support person may be present at a time at the patient beside.
- For pediatric patients, only one parent/guardian will be allowed at the patient’s bedside at one time. Parents can designate a second support person (i.e., the second parent or grandparent) to relieve the one parent, particularly in times of prolonged hospitalization.
- Patients in the Emergency Department, who have not been hospitalized, may have one support person at a time, per patient, for their entire Emergency stay. The patient or their legal representative will determine the identified essential support person. One support person will be able to accompany a patient in the Emergency Department, and the support person must remain within close proximity of the patient’s treatment room or the designated waiting area for the entire visit.
If the patient being accompanied by the support person is admitted to the hospital from the Emergency Department, and none of the above scenarios apply, that support person may accompany the patient during the admission process to ensure the patient is settled, thereafter, this individual is considered a “visitor” and must adhere to the current COVID-19 visitor restrictions. If a patient is admitted outside of permitted visiting hours, the visitor must return during visiting hours (as applicable).
Exceptions to the ‘one person at a time’ designation may apply. Pediatric patients may have both parents as essential support persons within the Emergency Department. Any other extenuating circumstance will be presented to the lead Emergency Department physician for consideration.
- Visitation duration and number of visitors will be limited at the site’s discretion based on circumstances. A facility may suspend visitation at any time when warranted. Recommended hours of visitation will be determined by the facility.All visitors should be greater than 18 years of age, except in very rare cases as mentioned above.
- All visitors will be screened for symptoms (fever, sore throat, runny nose, cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches, or diarrhea) and conduct a temperature check prior to entering the clinical area, and every 12 hours thereafter for the remainder of their presence at the bedside.
- All visitors will be asked to perform meticulous hand hygiene and wear a face mask throughout the visit.
- Visitors will be asked to stay in the patient room throughout the visit, except during aerosol-generating procedures, and will have limited access to restrooms, and the ‘to-go’ option of the cafeterias.
- Visitors are requested to wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), i.e. procedure mask, gown, gloves, and eye protection (if available) while in the area/room based on the patient’s diagnosis. When leaving the area/room, visitors will remove PPE (except mask), perform hand hygiene, and exit the hospital. The mask can be removed after exiting the building.
- Visitors who fail to agree to wear a procedure mask and other PPE will be asked to leave the facility.
Emergency Department Support Person Guidelines
Effective June 19, 2020
- Only one support person at a time per patient for their entire Emergency stay. The patient or their legal representative will determine the identified essential support person who can visit the hospital. One support person will be able to accompany a patient in the Emergency Department, and the support person must remain within close proximity of the patient’s treatment room or the designated waiting area for the entire visit.
- All support persons MUST be screened for COVID-19 symptoms.
- Each support person MUST wear a mask at all times, and ensure social distancing with proper hand hygiene.
- If the patient being accompanied by the support person is admitted to the hospital from the Emergency Department, that support person is now a “visitor” and must adhere to the current COVID-19 visitor restrictions. If a patient is admitted outside of permitted visiting hours, the visitor must return during visiting hours (as applicable).
- Exceptions may apply. Pediatric patients may have both parents as essential support persons. Any other extenuating circumstance will be presented to the lead Emergency Department physician for consideration.