NYC Health + Hospitals Ease Restrictions On Visitors At All Hospitals For The First Time Since The COVID-19 Peak

June 23, 2020

NYC Health + Hospitals today announced that it will ease restrictions on visitations in all of its 11 hospitals (including Harlem hospital) for the first time since the COVID-19 crisis peak.

The beginning will be on Wednesday, June 24, 2020. Visits at each of the hospitals will be limited to just one visitor at a time per patient for four hours a day. Patients in all departments of the hospitals will be allowed, visitors. Visitors will be advised to perform meticulous hand hygiene, be required to wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), and undergo symptoms and temperature checks upon entering the hospital. Restrictions on visitation were implemented during the COVID-19 surge across the State to reduce the transmission of the virus.

“Being able to safely ease visitation restrictions across our system is an exciting milestone during this unprecedented global public health crisis,” said NYC Health + Hospitals President and CEO Mitchell Katz, MD. “Limiting visitors at all during the surge was a difficult but necessary decision we all had to make to ensure the safety of our staff, patients, and their loved ones. We’re all looking forward to safely welcoming people back and providing patients the love and support they need to heal.”

“The no visitor restrictions during the COVID-19 surge was one of the most heartbreaking aspects of this pandemic,” said NYC Health + Hospitals Senior Vice President and Chief Quality Officer Eric Wei, MD, MBA. “We understand how the support of a loved one can help ease some of the anxieties common within hospitals. We’re looking forward to easing the restrictions on visitors and getting back to some normalcy in our hospitals.”

While visitation policies will vary slightly at each of the 11 hospitals a part of the City’s public health system, the following requirements will be consistent throughout in compliance with New York State requirements:

  • Visits are limited to no more than four hours per day per patient, unless otherwise dependent on the patient’s status and condition
  • Visitors are limited to one person at a time, unless otherwise authorized by the hospital, depending on the patient’s status and condition
  • Each facility will determine appropriate visiting hours
  • Total time for all visitors cannot exceed the four-hour maximum, unless otherwise authorized by the hospitals
  • Visitors will be required to wear face coverings at all times while inside the hospital
  • Visitors will be advised how to perform meticulous hand hygiene and must adhere to this procedure
  • Visitors will undergo a COVID-19 symptom and temperature check upon arrival
  • Once in the facility, visitors must remain in the patient’s room throughout the visit except when directed by hospital staff to leave during aerosol-generating procedures or other procedures during which visitors are usually asked to leave
  • Patients undergoing same-day procedures may be accompanied to the facility by a companion and that companion may remain with the patient through the initial intake process, and may rejoin the patient for the discharge process
  • Visitors may not be present during procedures and in the recovery room except for pediatrics, childbirth, and patients with an intellectual, developmental, or other cognitive disability
  • Health care providers should thoroughly discuss the potential risks and benefits of the visitor’s presence with the visitor and, depending upon the patient’s condition, the patient
  • All visitors must be greater than 18 years of age except in rare exceptions as determined by the hospital

Separate from the new visitation policies, NYC Health + Hospitals facilities will continue to allow limited visitation to the following, maintaining compliance with previous State guidance:

  • Patients in labor, delivery, and the remainder of the patients’ admission
  • Pediatric patients
  • Patients for whom a support person has been determined to be essential to the care of the patient (medically necessary), including patients with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities and patients with cognitive impairments including dementia
  • Patients in immediate end-of-life situations

“While the health and safety of patients during this unprecedented pandemic is the highest importance, COVID-19 restrictions have been extremely difficult for families and loved ones,” said Council Member Adrienne Adams. “I am pleased that NYC Health + Hospitals has eased visitation restrictions as the curve flattens allowing patients to have the support and comfort of those closest to them during a hospital visit at their most vulnerable times. This milestone will resume the positive benefits visitation can have on a patient’s recovery.”

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“As we begin to ease restrictions City-wide, today’s announcement of all 11 hospitals easing limitations on visitations is not only encouraging, but also critical to the emotional well-being of the patient as well has their loved ones,” said Council Member Diana Ayala. “During these difficult times, having direct comfort and love is crucial to the healing processes.  This indeed is wonderful and welcoming news.”

“As a pastor and a mental health professional, I know full well the heartbreak of being unable to visit, comfort, and care for a loved one who is hospitalized for COVID-19,” said Council Member Fernando Cabrera.  “The restrictions in our hospitals were absolutely necessary to stop the community spread of the virus, and the work of our frontline hospital workers has been heroic. These efforts have saved lives and paved the way to move forward with necessary precautions.  This is a major breakthrough and will ease the sadness and anxiety of those hospitalized, their loved ones, and hospital workers who daily put their hearts into their work.”

“Safely opening visitation, in a way that protects patients, visitors, and staff, is precisely the conscientious approach we need,” said Council Member Robert E. Cornegy, Jr. This thoughtful easing of restrictions on visitation will come as a welcome relief to patients and their loved ones.”

“COVID-19 has robbed New York City families of too many heartfelt moments with loved ones,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “I am filled with hope that we will eradicate this virus as we see that we have made enough progress to allow for visitors at our City hospitals. Not only will this improve morale in this City, but it might even save some lives as patients are cheered up by visitors. Thank you to NYC Health + Hospitals President and CEO Mitchell Katz, MD for doing the work to make this possible at this stage of the fight against Covid-19.”

“As the number of COVID-19 cases are greatly decreasing, I am happy to hear that NYC Health + Hospitals will begin the process of allowing visitation,” said Council Member Andy King. “It was a devastating time in NYC as COVID-19 took the lives of so many who were unable to be with their loved ones, but these precautions were necessary to keep NYC safe. As New York City reopens and hospital visitation begins, we must continue to respect the rules and regulations put in place to keep patients, hospital staff, and visitors safe, as well as keeping COVID-19 numbers low.”

In May, NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi, North Central Bronx and Coney Island were among 20 hospitals across New York that participated in the NYS Department of Health’s COVID-19 Pilot Hospital Visitation Program, intended to reduce the stress and anxiety caused by the separation of patients and their loved ones during a hospitalization. The two-week pilot was designed to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and ensure a safe environment for patients, families, visitors and health care workers, while permitting expanded, but still limited, visitation.

Virtual tools helped NYC Health + Hospitals mitigate the emotional toll of being isolated in the hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic. Using over 1,000 donated tablets, patients who were unable to receive visitors due to strict but necessary restrictions, were able to connect with their loved ones through a newly implemented patient-family community program. NYC Health + Hospitals helped facilitate over 500 video calls a day to connect patients and their loved ones.

NYC Health + Hospitals has re-engineered patient care areas across its systemto provide safe care to everyone after the COVID-19 surge, and has recently increased in-person care visits. The system is urging all New Yorkers to seek the care they need and deserve without delaying it.

To make an appointment or find a doctor, please call 844-NYC-4NYC. For more information on how NYC Health + Hospitals is ensuring patient safety during care appointments, visit this site.

NYC Health + Hospitals is the largest public health care system in the nation serving more than a million New Yorkers annually in more than 70 patient care locations across the city’s five boroughs. A robust network of outpatient, neighborhood-based primary and specialty care centers anchors care coordination with the system’s trauma centers, nursing homes, post-acute care centers, home care agency, and MetroPlus health plan—all supported by 11 essential hospitals. Its diverse workforce of more than 42,000 employees is uniquely focused on empowering New Yorkers, without exception, to live the healthiest life possible.

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