Temporary Visitor Policies and Guidance During COVID-19

MedStar Health Temporary Visitor and Patient Support Persons Policy

Effective Dec. 23, 2020 

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, MedStar Health has put in place temporary restrictions and guidance for patient visitors and support persons for patients with disabilities (support persons) at all of our care locations. This policy applies to all MedStar Health care locations in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia. These restrictions are subject to change. Please use the following restrictions and guidance until further notice to help safeguard our patients, associates, physicians, and communities.

Patient Visitor and Support Person Restrictions

  • Only those visitors and support persons for patients with disabilities permitted by this policy are allowed at hospitals or ambulatory locations.
  • All visitors and support persons for patients with disabilities must check in at front desk.
  • All visitors and support persons for patients with disabilities must wear a face mask.

General Guidance for Hospital and Ambulatory Locations

  • All visitors 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. Visitors and support persons for patients with disabilities are expected to bring their own face mask. If they do not have one, a non-procedural face mask will be provided.
  • All visitors and support persons for patients with disabilities will be screened for a history of COVID-19 and for flu-like symptoms, such as fever, cough or shortness of breath, and will not be permitted if symptomatic.
    • A visitor with a history of COVID-19 may be permitted to visit:
      • 10 days after diagnosis if visitor did not require hospitalization.
      • 20 days after diagnosis if visitor did require hospitalization.
  • All approved visitors and support persons for patients with disabilities must follow proper infection prevention practices, including masking, hand washing/sanitizing, and physical distancing.
  • Family members or friends of any visitors and support persons for patients with disabilities cannot enter the facility or wait in lobbies or common areas, including any/all areas of the hospital—lobbies, waiting areas, common spaces, chapels, cafeteria, food court, bank, and/or any other area within the care location.
  • No visitors or support persons for patients with disabilities under the age of 18 are permitted, unless they are parents of pediatric patients.

Additional Visitor and Support Persons for Patients with Disabilities Restrictions for Patients with Confirmed COVID-19 or Persons Under Investigation (PUI)

  • Approved visitors and support persons for patients with disabilities must gown in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) provided by the hospitals—surgical mask, isolation gown, face shield (eye protection), and gloves.
  • Approved visitors and support persons for patients with disabilities must not be ill or show symptoms of illness.

Visitors to Hospital Locations

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19 across our care locations, only the following visitors are permitted:

Compassionate Care

  • Two visitors per patient at end of life.
  • One visitor per patient undergoing emergency/unplanned surgery.
  • One visitor upon discharge for patients with outpatient hospital based invasive procedures, including surgery/moderate sedation.
  • One visitor to accompany patient for hospital discharge.
  • One visitor if indicated by patient’s provider to support patient rehabilitation needs.
  • Patients receiving religious services from the religious leader of their choice at any reasonable time, if it can be provided without disruption to care (religious leader does not count as the patient’s visitor).

Parents/Guardians with Minor Pediatric Patients

  • One parent/caregiver of pediatric patients (up to age 18) at a time; parents may switch off as necessary.

Parents/Guardians with Patients Aged 19-26

  • One parent or guardian for patients aged 19-26 (this does not apply to Emergency Department patients. No visitors are permitted for patients aged 19-26 in Emergency Departments.).

Labor & Delivery

  • One personal visitor or one trained professional (e.g., doula) in Labor & Delivery, including ante-partum and postpartum units.
  • Patients on Labor and Delivery floors will be allowed one visitor for the duration of the labor and delivery. During this time, MedStar Health will support dietary and hygienic needs of visitors and support persons for patients with disabilities. After labor and delivery, the visitor may leave and re-enter the post-partum areas.
  • Patients may choose to utilize a professional doula in place of a visitor.
  • Patients are expected to wear face masks, when clinically feasible and appropriate, throughout their hospitalization while outside of patient rooms (e.g., radiology, hallway, during transport to procedure, etc.).
  • Patients who decline testing are considered a Person Under Investigation (PUI) during delivery. PUI and COVID-19 positive patients are not permitted to have a trained professional (e.g., doula) while on Labor & Delivery floors.

Visitors to Ambulatory Locations

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19 across our care locations, only the following visitors are permitted:

  • One designated visitor may accompany a patient during an ambulatory visit (i.e., urgent care), procedure or same-day surgery if needed to help facilitate care or treatment, such as a parent of a child, or to assist patients with wheelchair, walking, or other care/support, or to facilitate complex care decisions (example: pre-surgical/procedural consultation/consent).
  • One parent/guardian is permitted to accompany patients under the age of 18 during pediatric, ambulatory or urgent care visits. No one else, including siblings, may accompany the parent/guardian and patient to the visit.
  • No visitors are permitted in our outpatient cancer infusion locations due to increased risk to immunocompromised patients; visitors may wait in their cars or designated areas per instruction from treatment locations.
  • Patients may receive religious service from the religious leader of their choice at any reasonable time if it can be provided without disruption to care. Religious leaders will not count as the patient’s visitor.
  • Patients are strongly discouraged from having minors under the age of 18 accompany them as visitors during appointments.
  • A video visit/telemedicine option is available at all ambulatory practices and can be used to facilitate care decisions without being physically present.

Patients with Disabilities Hospital or Ambulatory Requirements

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 an 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 an 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 healthcare. 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 religious leader of their choice at any reasonable time, if it can be provided without disruption to care. Religious leaders will not count as the patient’s visitor.

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

Revised Dec. 22, 2020