HUDSON — After months of strict regulations prohibiting in-person visitation during the COVID-19 outbreak, Columbia Memorial Health is now easing up on its restrictions.
Guidelines allowing visitors have expanded, but provisions remain in place to protect patients and staff from the coronavirus.
“Visitation is important to both patients and their loved ones,” said MaryEllen Plass, chief nursing officer for Columbia Memorial Health. “Our revised guidelines, which have been approved by the state Department of Health, will allow limited visitation to recommence in a way that is safe for all of our patients, visitors and staff.”
Visiting hours will be permitted daily between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m., and each patient will be allowed one visitor per day. Different visitors will be allowed, but only one each day, according to the hospital.
All visitors must be 18 years or older, and must wear a face mask when entering the hospital and for the duration of their visit. Hand hygiene must be practiced both before entering the patient’s room and when leaving the room. Temperatures will be checked prior to entering the hospital, and those with a temperature above 100.4 degrees will not be allowed in.
There are enhanced regulations for people visiting patients whose health condition mandates enhanced precautions, and those visitors will be required to wear a face mask, eye shield, gown and gloves.
All visitors must remain in the patient’s room throughout the visit and continue to wear personal protective equipment, or PPE, for the entire visit.
The new visitation policy went into effect July 8, hospital spokesman Bill Van Slyke said.
Some departments have modified regulations. There are special considerations for pediatric patients, maternity patients who are giving birth, patients for whom it is medically necessary to have a support person with them and patients at the end of life.
The rules for those patients differed throughout the coronavirus pandemic and will remain unchanged.
The Psychiatric Services department will not allow visitors at this time, according to the hospital. The Emergency Services department will allow visitors on a limited basis.
Patients having surgical procedures performed are allowed to be accompanied by one person who can stay with the patient during their intake appointment, and will then be required to remain in the surgical waiting area.
The new regulations will be evaluated and changes will be made if needed.
“We will carefully monitor the situation and make any additional revisions that may become necessary,” Plass said.
Columbia Memorial officials were among representatives from 10 area hospitals and health care facilities who announced March 13, at a media briefing in Albany, that visitation guidelines were being revised due to the public health crisis in an attempt to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
Tight regulations on hospital visitation remained in place until June 16, when Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced hospitals and group homes statewide would be allowed to accept visitors, with provisions in place to prevent virus spread.
“We are going to allow hospitals to start accepting visitors at their discretion pursuant to state guidelines that have limited visits, PPE, temperature checks, etc.,” Cuomo said at the June 16 press briefing. “Obviously we need to be careful, but we will allow visitors in hospitals.”