Meritus Medical Center tightens visitor policy


HAGERSTOWN, Md. (WDVM) — Amid rising COVID-19 positivity and hospitalization rates in western Maryland and across the state, Meritus Medical Center in Hagerstown is tightening their visitor policy beginning on Thursday, November 12th, 2020.

The state of Maryland has seen its highest COVID-19 positivity rate since June. Governor Larry Hogan said the state is now in the red zone for the number of cases per 100,000 people.

Statistics as of November 11, 2020, showed 805 hospitalizations, 193 patients in the Intensive Care Unit, and more than 1,000 positive COVID-19 cases every day for a week straight, putting the statewide positivity rate over five percent.

Meritus will return to their visitation rules that were put into place at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic which prohibits visitors to any and all patients only allowing visitors for specific exceptions. All support people and visitors may be screens for flu-like symptoms and will not be allowed entry if they are symptomatic.

Face masks are required for entry and must be work at all times. Support persons must arrive before 9 PM if they are going to stay overnight. Pet therapy programs will still not be operating but service animals are still allowed entrance to Meritus Medical Center.

One support person is designated and permitted at all times:

  • For any patient with a disability who requires bedside care from a caregiver due to the specifics of the disability.
  • For labor, delivery, and the duration of the obstetric patient’s hospital stay.
  • For pediatric patients. Two designated support people may be chosen to rotate during a patient’s hospital stay, but only one visitor at a time at the bedside.

The policy stresses that in each of the situations listed above, additional safety precautions will apply to the designated support person if the patient they are caring for is diagnosed or has symptoms related to COVID-19.

The policy also details that one visitor is permitted under the circumstance that a support person is not designated:

  • To accompany the patient in the emergency department waiting room unless social distancing maximum capacity is met.
  • To accompany the patient in the patient’s emergency department room for the duration of the patient’s stay in the ED.
  • For a patient undergoing emergency surgery related to a traumatic event.
  • For a patient whose care team requests the visitor to be a part of scheduled training for the patient’s rehabilitation or to help with cognitive needs.
  • For a patient who is required to receive in-person, bedside, discharge education.
  • To escort an adult patient to registration. The visitor must leave the building after providing his/her phone number to staff.
  • To accompany a pediatric patient during his/her visit;

Two visitors at all time are permitted for all end-of-life care patients.

This change comes on the heels of Governor Hogan’s announcement of the state’s tightened COVID-19 restrictions.

Joelle Butler, the Communications Programs Manager for Meritus Medical Center explained that the implementation of these restrictions is to protect their staff and patients.

“In order to remain vigilant to keep our employees and patients safe and with the governor’s announcement yesterday about the positivity rates and hospitalization rates going up across the state and in our region, we’re going back to the tightened restrictions at the hospital and our outpatient facility that we had when COVID first started in our community.”

Butler also stressed that the changes to the visitation policy were going to be put in place regardless of the Governor’s tightened restrictions.

For more information on Meritus Medical Center’s COVID-19 policy, visit their website.

A spokesperson for West Virginia University Medicine Berkeley Medical Center stated that their current visitor policy stands and no changes have been made since their last update in July.

Visitors to Berkeley Medical Center will only be permitted between 12 Noon and 7 PM. All visitors will be screened and must wear a mask at all times. The policy also details that there is only one approved adult visitor allowed per day, per inpatient and the visitor must remain in the patient’s room for the entire stay. All visitors must register at the information desk to obtain a visitor pass and must return the visitor pass once their visit has concluded. The visitor will not be allowed to return until the next day.

Exceptions will be made for life-threatening emergencies or sensitive patient care situations as well as the emergency department. Patients in the emergency departments are permitted to have one adult and the approved adult will be asked to return to their vehicle and will be notified once the patient is placed in a treatment room.

No visitors will be permitted on the Behavioural Health Unit and individuals who are ill are not permitted to accompany any patient.

For more information on Berkeley Medical Center’s COVID-19 Visitation Policy, visit their website.

A spokesperson for Winchester Medical Center also stated that the facility is adhering to their current visitor policy.

The policy details that Winchester Medical Center is allowing patients to choose whether they would like a Care Partner present to provide physical and emotional support. In the Emergency Department and Outpatient Procedural/Surgical Areas, patients are allowed to have one visitor. Patients in Inpatient Procedural/Surgical Areas are allowed to have one designated Care Partner permitted inside of the hospital before and during the procedure. The patient may then choose to have a second Care Partner upon admission to the hospital but only one Care Partner will be allowed in the hospital at a time.

For Inpatient Units, Pediatrics, and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit will be permitted two Care Partners.

For Labor and Delivery, one designated visitor will be allowed to remain with the mother for the delivery. Once the mother is moved to the Mother/Baby Unit, the mother can choose to add another Care Partner but only one Care Partner will be allowed to visit at a time and cannot be switched.

For End of Life patients, two family or friend visitors may remain at the patient’s bedside at a time. There are no restrictions for visitation hours for End of Life patients. If requested, clergy will be allowed to administer last rites or other religious end of life customs.

For more information on Winchester Medical Center’s COVID-19 Visitation Policy, visit their website.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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