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New Visitor Guidelines: Hospital Restrictions Eased

June 04, 2020

With safety measures in place, Hartford HealthCare (HHC) announced a phased-in relaxation of the visitor restrictions put into place during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was the right thing to do, the safe thing to do to try to limit the potential spread of this virus,” said HHC President and CEO Jeff Flaks of the visitor policy effective in March. “We challenged ourselves to migrate back as soon as possible.”

Dr. Faiqa Cheema, a Hartford HealthCare infectious disease specialist, said the goal at that time was to keep people with the virus but no symptoms from infecting patients and providers in the hospital.

“We feel now that it’s time to make changes based on science and thoughtful approach,” she said.

The changes start this week when patients coming into peri-procedural and surgical areas — cardiac procedural units, interventional radiology  and gastrointestinal areas – will be allowed to bring a visitor/escort with them.

Guidelines include:

  • Visitors will be screened upon arrival and must screen negative to remain on site.
  • Visitors must wear a face mask at all times.
  • Visitors will stay with patients in a modified waiting area that ensures appropriate physical distancing.
  • When the patient is called in, the visitor may go to the procedure area and wait in a modified lounge until the end of the procedure.
  • If the patient presents documentation requiring a companion or if clinicians feel it would be clinically or psychologically beneficial, one visitor may stay with the patient in the care area during the entire stay.

On Monday, June 8, visitor restrictions will be lifted in all HHC acute and ambulatory areas, with the exception of residential senior services facilities which are under state mandate to prohibit visitors until Sept. 8.

In addition to screening negative, wearing a facemask and maintaining physical distancing, further guidelines in this phase include:

  • One visitor is allowed per patient in acute and ambulatory areas.
  • Visits are allowed during regular visiting hours.
  • One visitor is allowed per room, even in semi-private rooms.
  • Visitors must be age 16 or older.
  • Visitors who are COVID-positive or under investigation are not allowed.

Having visitors will help patients tremendously, Dr. Cheema said.

“The patients have felt very isolated and alone. We have provided loving support to them, and I’d like to thank the nursing staff for displaying such compassion,” she said. “(But) having family and visitors at the bedside promotes healing and we believe in that.”

Teams will evaluate testing and antibody data daily to guide further decisions and maintain a safe environment. Flaks noted that preliminary results of a study into the presence of antibodies to COVID-19, generally a product of being infected with the virus, in HHC staff, there is only 6-percent positive rate.

“That proves the steps we’ve been taking have been successful,” he said. “At the same time, we’ve been looking at the prevalence (of COVID-19) in the community and we’re comfortable we can make this decision now and move forward.

“We couldn’t be happier to be bringing the visitors back.”

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