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Hospitals OK Visitors, But With Restrictions

Patti Singer

Novel coronavirus. File photo

No one wanted to tell a family member or friend that no, you can’t see your loved one in a hospital.

But months ago, with the fear that COVID-19 could sweep through the community and lead to hospitals being overrun with patients, the state Department of Health banned visitors in all but extreme instances.

Now, with the number of new and active COVID-19 cases flattening, a trickle of visitors is being allowed back into hospitals.

Based on state-issued guidelines, Rochester Regional Health and UR Medicine are scheduled to start limited visitation on June 25.

The policies are specific to the system and the hospital, so family and friends need to check the hospitals website for details.

In general, the policies:

  • Prohibit visitors in emergency departments.
  • Prohibit visitors for patients who have or are suspected to have COVID-19.
  • Limit the number of visitors to one or two.
  • Limit the time that visitors can stay.
  • Limit the places that visitors can go.
  • Prohibit visitors supporting someone undergoing surgery from waiting onsite during the procedure.
  • Require visitors to have a temperature check, to wear appropriate personal protective equipment and to provide contact information.
  • Provide the visitor with written information about the risk and benefits of visiting.

During an online news conference June 23, Monroe County Health Commission Dr. Michael Mendoza and representatives of Rochester Regional and UR Medicine said that patients benefit greatly from having visitors.

“We know that patients heal better when they have the support of their family,” Mendoza said. “It’s not lost on any of us how difficult the situation has been for families and patients.”

As of June 23, hospitalizations from COVID-19 at their lowest since mid-May and 11 percent of hospitalized patients on a ventilator.

However, African Americans and Latinos continue to make up a disproportionate number of those hospitalizations, according to the Monroe County Department of Public Health. As of June 15, African Americans had an age-adjusted hospitalization rate of 255.2 per 100,000 population and Latinos had an age-adjusted rate of 143 per 100,000. As for deaths, African Americans had an age-adjusted rate of 60 per 100,000 and Latinos had an age-adjusted rate of 55 per 100,000.

As the region prepares for phase four of the reopening, Mendoza and the hospital officials are watching to see if the first three phases had a cumulative effect on the number of cases.

Because a spike has not occurred doesn’t mean it can’t or won’t. Mendoza did not give a threshold for the number of new cases that would trigger a rollback in hospital visitation.

Visitors still are not allowed in nursing homes and assisted living residences. UR Medicine operates elder living facilities, and Kathy Parrinello, chief operating officer of UR Medicine’s Strong Memorial Hospital, said the system would be applying lessons learned at the hospitals for when other facilities could reopen to visitors.