Temporary Visitor Policies and Guidance During COVID-19

MedStar Health Temporary Visitor and Patient Support Persons Policy

Effective April 19, 2021 

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, MedStar Health has put in place temporary restrictions and guidance for patient visitors, professional support persons (e.g., doula) 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, Professional Support Persons (e.g., doula) and Support Persons for Patients with Disabilities Permitted by this Policy are Allowed at Hospitals or Ambulatory Locations
  • All Visitors, Professional Support Persons (e.g., doula) and Support Persons for Patients with Disabilities Must Check In at Front Desk
  • All Visitors, Professional Support Persons (e.g., doula) and Support Persons for Patients with Disabilities Must Wear a Face Mask

General Guidance for Hospital and Ambulatory Locations

  • All visitors, professional support persons 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, professional support persons 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, professional support persons 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, professional support persons 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, professional support persons 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. Any visitors that are required to switch off for visitation must do so outside of the hospital.
  • 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, Professional Support Persons and Support Persons for Patients with Disabilities Restrictions for Patients with Confirmed COVID-19 or Persons Under Investigation (PUI):

  • Approved visitors, professional support persons 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, professional support persons 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. 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.
  • One visitor per day for one visit between 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. for palliative care and hospice patients.
  • One visitor per patient:
    • Involved in an ethics consult to assist with decisions and goals of care.
    • With a length of stay greater than three weeks; may visit weekly until patient is discharged.
    • Undergoing emergency/unplanned surgery.
    • Upon discharge for patients with outpatient hospital-based invasive procedures, including surgery/moderate sedation.
    • To accompany a patient for hospital discharge.
    • 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.
  • Patients may receive religious services from their clergy of choice at any reasonable time, if provided without disruption to care. Clergy is not counted as 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

  • Non-COVID-19 Positive Patients:Patients on Labor and Delivery floors who are non-COVID-19 positive and non-PUI will be allowed one personal visitor and one professional support person (e.g., doula). Patients with disabilities may bring a support person, one personal visitor and one professional support person (e.g., doula). The personal visitor and support person may leave and re-enter the Labor and Delivery floor, as well as the post-partum areas.
  • Persons Under Investigation (PUI) or COVID-19 Positive Patients: Patients on Labor and Delivery floors who decline testing are considered a PUI during delivery. PUI and COVID-19 positive patients are permitted to have a personal visitor or a professional support person (e.g., doula) while on Labor and Delivery floors. Patients with disabilities may also bring a support person in addition to a personal visitor or a professional support person (e.g., doula). These designated individuals must remain in the room throughout the duration of the labor and delivery and must gown in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) provided by the hospitals (i.e., surgical masks, isolation gowns, face shield (eye protection), and gloves). During this time, MedStar Health will support dietary and hygienic needs of these visitors.  
  • After labor and delivery, a personal visitor and/or support person for patients with disabilities may be with the patient on the post-partum floor but must remain in the room with the patient.
  • Patients are expected to wear face masks, when clinically feasible and appropriate, throughout their hospitalization in the patient room when others are present and while outside of patient rooms (e.g., radiology, hallway, during transport to procedure, etc.). 

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 is a specialty hospital and requires additional protections against COVID-19 infection at the facility. MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital 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 their clergy of choice at any reasonable time if it can be provided without disruption to care. Clergy is not counted as patient’s visitor.

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

Revised April 19, 2021