Temporary Visitor Policies and Guidance During COVID-19

temporary visitor information

MedStar Health Visitor and Patient Support Persons Policy

To continue prioritizing the safety of our patients, associates, physicians, and communities, MedStar Health implemented a three-tier Visitor and Patient Support Persons Policy that allows for adjustments based on the number of COVID-19 cases in the community, according to state and county public health data. Currently, all hospitals and ambulatory locations are following green restrictions. 

Green Visitor Restrictions


General Guidance for Hospital and Ambulatory Locations

  • Visitation is at the clinical and operational discretion of the entity, providers and unique patient circumstances.
  • All patients are required to wear face masks, when clinically feasible and appropriate, throughout their hospitalization, including in patient rooms when others are present and while outside of patient rooms (e.g., radiology, hallway, during transport to procedure, etc.) per the MedStar Health Universal Masking Protocol.
  • All visitors, professional support persons, clergies, and support persons for patients with disabilities:
    • Must check in at the front desk and wear a face mask throughout the duration of their visit (gaiters and face masks with an exhalation valve are not permitted). They are expected to bring their own face mask. If they do not have one, a face mask will be provided.
    • Will be screened for a history of COVID-19 and for COVID-like symptoms, such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, sudden loss of taste or smell, vomiting or diarrhea.
      • A visitor with a history of COVID-19 may be permitted if asymptomatic or symptoms have improved:
        • 10 days after positive COVID-19 test collection date if visitor did not require hospitalization.
        • 20 days after positive COVID-19 test collection date if visitor required hospitalization.
  • Must follow proper infection prevention practices, including masking, hand hygiene, and physical distancing and other PPE if applicable. Visitor vaccination status does not impact these requirements or this policy in any way.
  • Approved visitors, professional support persons, and support persons for patients with disabilities for Patients with Confirmed COVID-19 or Persons Under Investigation (PUI) must don Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) provided by the hospitals—procedure mask, isolation gown, goggles or face shield (eye protection), and gloves; and must not be ill or show symptoms of illness.
  • Additional approved visitors and/or visitors switching off are not permitted to wait in common areas, including lobbies, vestibules, waiting areas, hallways, chapels, cafeteria, food court, bank, and/or any other area within the care location. Visitors switching off (as permitted by the policy) must transition outside the facility.
  • End of life is defined as death is anticipated within hours to days. This policy remains in effect if the end-of-life period extends after the first end of life visit. End-of-life visitors may be anyone identified by the patient or patient’s surrogate to include children under the age of 18, who will be accompanied and supervised by an adult.
  • In hospitals, children under the age of 18 are permitted (excludes ICU) but must be under the supervision of an adult over the age of 18. For ambulatory locations, patients are strongly discouraged from having minors under the age of 18 accompany them as visitors during appointments.
  • Patients may receive religious services from their clergy of choice at any reasonable time if services can be provided without disruption to care.
  • Hospitals will continue to restrict entrances.
  • Visitors cannot visit multiple patients within the same day.
  • Visitation may be prohibited on select inpatient units in the case of a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 outbreak in the previous 14 days.

Visitors to Hospital Locations

COVID-19 Positive or PUI Patients

Inpatient

  • No visitors except as permitted below.

Compassionate Care

  • Two visitors with no visiting hour restrictions for end-of-life situations.
  • One visitor in person to participate in palliative care, hospice, or ethics consult to assist with decisions and goals of care.
  • One visitor per patient with a length of stay greater than three weeks; may visit weekly until patient is discharged.

Emergency Department 

  • No visitors.
  • One parent/guardian may accompany children under 18 years of age.

Surgical & Procedural Departments

  • No visitors.

Obstetrics/Labor & Delivery

  • One approved visitor for duration of labor and delivery. A doula can be the approved visitor. Must remain with the patient.
  • No restrictions on hours. 

Antepartum

  • One approved visitor for antepartum patients, who must remain in the patient room but may leave and re-enter the antepartum area once per day.
  • No restrictions on hours.

Postpartum

  • One approved visitor for duration of the stay, who may leave and re-enter the postpartum area once per day but must remain in the patient room.
  • No restriction on hours.

NICU

  • One approved parent/guardian, who must stay in designated area 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Pediatrics

  • One approved parent/guardian, who must stay in the patient room 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Acute Care Rehabilitation

  • No visitors. 

Pediatrics

  • One approved parent/guardian, who must stay in the patient room 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Behavioral Health Units

  • No visitors. 

Non-COVID-19 Positive or PUI Patients

Inpatient

  • One visitor per patient in the room at a time. Visitors may switch off one time during visiting hours.
  • Visiting hours are 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. (exceptions permitted by providers in unique circumstances).
  • Intensive Care Unit (ICU) visiting hours may vary based on entity.

Compassionate Care

  • Two visitors in the room with no visiting hour restrictions for end-of-life situations.
  • Two visitors in the room, with no visiting hour restrictions, for patients under palliative or hospice care. Duration of visit is contingent on patient’s condition.
  • One visitor for the following situations:
    • Patients undergoing emergency/unplanned surgery.
    • If indicated by patient’s provider to support patient rehabilitation needs, to include patients who are neurologically intact on life- sustaining treatments and whose plan of care requires less sedation and more awake time.

Emergency Department 

  • One visitor over the age of 18 years (subject to space and physical distancing requirements).
  • Two parents/guardians may accompany children under 18 years of age.

Surgical & Procedural Departments

  • One visitor/guardian may accompany patient, subject to space and physical distancing requirements.
  • No restrictions on hours.

Obstetrics/Labor & Delivery

  • Two visitors for duration of labor and delivery, one of which may be a doula.
  • No restrictions on hours. 

Antepartum

  • Two visitors at a time for antepartum patients.
  • No restrictions on hours.

Postpartum

  • Two visitors per patient in the room during visiting hours. Visitors may switch off once during visiting hours.
  • Support person has no restriction on hours and may spend the night (must be 18 years of age or older, unless parent of the baby).
  • One sibling may visit with an adult visitor over the age of 18 (counting as one of the two visitors) prior to 7 p.m.

NICU

  • Two approved parents/guardians (subject to space and physical distancing requirements).
  • No restrictions on hours.

Pediatrics

  • Two visitors at a time during visiting hours.
  • One designated parent/guardian may stay overnight with the patient.

Acute Care Rehabilitation

  • Visiting Hours:
    • Mon. – Sun.: 1 p.m. – 6 p.m.
  • One visitor for the stay.

Behavioral Health Units

  • Mon. – Fri.: 6 p.m. – 7 p.m.
  • Sat./Sun.: 2 p.m. – 3 p.m.

Visitors to Ambulatory Locations

  • One visitor may accompany a patient during an ambulatory visit (i.e., urgent care), procedure or same-day surgery, subject to space and physical distancing requirements; siblings or others are strongly discouraged.
  • Patients are strongly discouraged from having minors under the age of 18 accompany them as visitors during appointments.
  • One visitor is permitted in outpatient cancer infusion locations.
  • A video visit/telemedicine option is available at all ambulatory practices and can be used to facilitate care decisions without a visitor being physically present.

Patients with Disabilities Hospital or Ambulatory Requirements

COVID-19 positive/PUI and Non-COVID-19 positive/Non-PUI Patients

With Disabilities with Support Person

The Americans With Disabilities Act defines a person with a disability as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity. Minor, temporary, or transient conditions (of less than six months) are generally not considered a disability but will be reviewed by an individualized assessment.

  • Patients with disabilities may designate one support person to accompany them throughout their visit or stay at MedStar Health. This designation will be documented in the patient’s record with the exceptions provided below:
    1. Patients with disabilities who are hospitalized for more than one day may designate two support persons, but only one support person may be present at a time. This will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
    2. Ambulatory patients with disabilities may designate one support person who may accompany the patient during an ambulatory visit. All support persons for patients with disabilities will remain with the patient or in a designated waiting area depending on the needs of the patients and the nature of the procedure (e.g., surgery, x-rays, etc.).
    3. MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital (MNRH), is a specialty hospital and requires additional protections against COVID-19 infection at the facility. MNRH will provide individualized assessment of the needs of a patient with a disability and provide the reasonable modifications, aids, and services including the presence of support person as necessary to ensure effective communication and equal access to health care.
  • A support person may be a family member, personal care assistant, similar disability service provider, or other individual knowledgeable about the management or care of the patient who is authorized to assist the patient in making decisions
  • This support person may be required to address: 1) needs that are not visually apparent to someone who does not know them (e.g., discomfort, hunger, thirst, pain); 2) changes in their symptoms; 3) needs related to a history of trauma; 4) emotional self-regulation and anxiety management to prevent unnecessary use of physical and chemical restraints.
  • Support persons for hospitalized patients with disabilities will be permitted to safely eat, drink, and use a restroom while present in the facility, provided proper precautions are taken to contain the spread of infection.
  • Other reasonable accommodations for patients with disabilities may be approved by clinical leadership according to the needs of the patient, provided the accommodations comply with all infection prevention policies.
  • Point of contact person is the administrator on call or clinical leadership in ambulatory setting to support and address any questions.
  • Any exceptions to this policy must be approved by the Vice President of Medical Affairs, Chief Nursing Officer, or clinical leadership in ambulatory setting.

With Cancer and With Disabilities in Ambulatory Infusion Clinics

  • Support persons for patients with disabilities may be allowed as necessary based on an individualized determination.

With Disability without Support Person

  • If a patient with a disability does not have a support person present during the patient’s visit or stay, MedStar Health will provide necessary aids and services and ensure effective communication and equal access to health care. MedStar Health recognizes its ongoing obligation to provide patients with effective communication support consistent with applicable federal or state law and regulations.

With Disability requesting Religious Services

  • Patients may receive religious services from the clergy of their choice at any reasonable time if it can be provided without disruption to care. Clergy will not count as patient’s visitor.

Click here to view MedStar Health COVID-19 information page.

Revised June 15, 2021