Revised visitor policy going into effect Wednesday, July 1

Published 06/30/2020

South County Health has announced an updated visitor policy that goes into effect on Wednesday, July 1, 2020 as the state of Rhode Island moves into Phase 3 of its re-opening.

Among the new visitation policies in place starting July 1:

• Patients diagnosed with or suspected of having COVID-19 should talk with their doctor or nurse if they feel they must have a visitor.

• All visitors must enter through the main hospital lobby and be screened (including temperature checks) for COVID-19. Those who screen positive will not be able to visit.

• Patients can designate one visitor for their stay. That individual can visit each day between 8 a.m. - 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. - 6 p.m., including weekends and holidays. (See visitation guidelines for specific departments below.)

• If you are at high-risk (e.g., older adults, persons with underlying medical conditions, etc.) of developing complications from COVID-19, we strongly encourage you to not visit.

• Patients may bring one support person to outpatient appointments. Due to limited space in our waiting areas, we ask that you only bring a support person for outpatient appointments if it is necessary.

• Visitors under the age of 18 are not allowed to visit except for end-of-life or other extreme situations as approved by a clinician or administrator.

All patients and approved visitors must:

• wear a mask or cloth face covering over the nose and mouth. Please do not wear gloves as this practice may increase the potential spread of the virus.
• practice social distancing (remain 6 feet from others)
• clean hands when entering or exiting patient care areas
• leave the facility as soon as the visit is over to avoid unnecessary contact and promote safety for others.

VISITATION RULES FOR IN-HOSPITAL SERVICES

Surgical Services
• No visitors are allowed in the Operating Room or surgical recovery areas.

• Patients undergoing same day surgery are allowed a visitor to accompany them into the pre-op area. Once the patient is ready for surgery, the visitor must leave. To minimize unnecessary interactions, we ask that visitors not wait in the hospital during their loved one’s surgery. Instead, leave your cell phone number with the nurse during the intake process and you will be contacted when the patient is ready.

• Patients staying overnight post-surgery should designate one person who can visit once they are transferred to an inpatient unit following surgery. Visitors can only visit during scheduled visiting hours.

Birthing Unit
• The Women & Newborn Care Unit will only allow one birthing partner during this high risk time. This partner will be allowed to stay with the birthing mother during her stay and will be asked to remain in the patient room for the duration of the visit.

Oncology Unit
• To minimize interaction with potentially immuno-compromised patients, the Infusion/Oncology Unit will only allow one visitor deemed necessary to assist with the patient’s care plan and needs. This will be discussed prior to the visit over the phone. Potential visitors will also be screened once they arrive in person.

Emergency Department
• The Emergency Department is open 24/7 to patients. One visitor is allowed at the discretion of the ED team.

Special circumstances
• In the event a patient is receiving end-of-life care, we will allow two visitors at a time. Exceptions for allowing other loved ones to “rotate” in as visitors can be discussed with the provider, nursing staff, and case management. Exceptions will be approved by administration. Additionally, clergy may also be allowed to visit with other visitors present.

VISITATION RULES FOR OUTPATIENT DEPARTMENTS
Please note: All visitors will be screened including temperature checks.

If you do not need to bring a visitor to an appointment, it is advisable to ask them to wait outside as our waiting rooms will have limited space due to social distancing requirements.

Patients visiting our medical practices will be screened over the phone prior to coming to their visit and screened again the day of their appointment. Visitors who arrive with their family member for an appointment will be screened as well. Social distancing and masking protocols will be enforced for all patients and visitors.

Outpatient offices will follow our safety guidelines (the hospital visiting hours are not applicable here.) Each patient will be allowed one visitor to accompany them if needed. At times, we may ask patients and their caretakers to wait in an alternative space until the waiting room in that practice becomes available.

Our offices located away from the main hospital campus will practice social distancing and masking and will ask screening questions of patients and their loved ones. These individuals may also be asked to wait in an alternative space until a practitioner can see them in the event the waiting room is crowded. Our Express Care offices will allow one person age 18 or older to accompany the patient at the discretion of staff.

ALTERNATIVES TO IN-PERSON VISITS
Social interaction is important for patients but given the circumstances, it is often not possible to visit a loved one in-person. South County Health has some alternative options to keep you connected.

• Call the patient’s “in-room” phone at the hospital.

• Use a cell phone, tablet, or laptop for audio/video calls or texting. Patients who do not have access to electronic devices can borrow one of our IPads and arrange for a time to communicate with loved ones. Patients can ask their caregivers how to access one of these devices.

• Family members can request to talk to their loved one’s providers via Zoom or Facetime or utilize that technology for a family conference with the patient.