Visitor restrictions ease at Asante hospitals
COVID-19 has presented our organization with several challenges over the last couple of months, from endless policy revisions, changing workflows, communication, mask wearing and everything in between. Yet none of these changes has struck at the heart of our workforce like the visitor restrictions.
We know that family and friends are a crucial part of the healing process, so it was welcome news when earlier this month the Oregon Health Authority relaxed the state’s strict hospital visitor rules. These updates allow Asante to adjust our own visitor restrictions to reflect the prevalence of COVID-19 in our community and within our hospitals.
Effective Tuesday, June 30, the following updates will be changed in our visitation process:
- All visitors must complete the screening process.
- No visitors under the age of 18.
- Each patient may have one visitor who passes the screening criteria and complies with the facility’s infection control procedures or one special visitor who passes the criteria (see below) for special visitors.
- Visitors beyond one person or as a designation of special visitor will require the use of the visitor authorization order at the discretion of the provider. Exceptions are:
- OB, pediatrics (including those in ED) and NICU will allow two visitors without a special order.
- For patients at the end of life, there is no daily restriction to the number of visitors, including a patient with COVID-19, as long as Asante’s infection control practices and procedure are followed.
- A patient with COVID-19 may have one visitor per day. Asante will encourage the use of telecommunication for patients with COVID-19.
- Patients will have adequate and lawful access to chaplains or clergy in conformance with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.
- Any restriction on visitation may be removed for an individual patient as determined by Asante staff using the chain of command, taking into account:
- The communication needs of the patient
- A patient’s individual circumstances
- Whether the risk of the spread of COVID-19 can be mitigated
- The emotional and physical toll that restrictions and limitations have on families and friends
OHA has designated a new exception for “special visitors.” These are visitors who don’t meet our screening criteria but may visit under the following circumstances if they follow our infection control practices:
- A caregiver or attendant for a patient who needs assistance due to a language barrier or disability, whether that disability is physical, developmental, intellectual, cognitive, behavioral or is related to altered mental status or communication. This special visitor is there to help the person with the disability in receive treatment, ensure the safety of the patient or facility staff, or assist with activities of daily living (e.g. patient attorneys, advocates and or representatives for long-term placement).
- A close family member of a patient undergoing end-of-life care as determined by the medical provider in charge of the patient’s care.
- A parent or legal guardian of a hospitalized child. If one parent or legal guardian (e.g. surrogacy) passes screening criteria but the other does not, only the parent or legal guardian who passes screening criteria must be guaranteed access as a visitor.
It is important that we balance the risk of COVID-19 with our community’s long-term well-being. Safety at Asante extends beyond preventing harm to include our patients’ emotional safety and security. This is helped by allowing family and friends to be with them during a vulnerable time.
Temperature checks halted
As part of the enhancement in our screening and visitor process Asante will be discontinuing temperature checks at entrances.
- Effective June 30.
- All staff and visitors who enter the building still will be required to review screening criteria and attest to wellness questions.
- The OHA has found the practice does not add value to identifying at-risk persons.
To keep staff, visitors and patients safe, Asante will focus on hand hygiene, cough etiquette and universal masking.