(Greenville, SC ) – “Being with a loved one is, in itself, a healing therapy, and Prisma Health looks forward to offering expanded visitation for designated care partners next week,” said Scott Sasser, MD, a nationally recognized disaster preparedness expert who oversees Prisma Health’s COVID-19 response.
“Throughout the pandemic, our team members have worked hard to make virtual visits – using digital devices such as iPads – possible for families who have been unable to visit their patients for in-person visits, and we will continue to do so,” said Sasser. “Since this pandemic likely will be with us into the near future, we ask our communities’ continued patience as we strive to provide extraordinary care under challenging circumstances.”
In an abundance of caution, Prisma Health had limited visitation early in the pandemic like other health systems in an effort to ensure patient, family and team member safety. Prisma Health made the decision to offer additional limited visitation after witnessing a decline in community spread.
The expanded policy will allow additional visitation by a single designated care partner under the following limited circumstances:
- Inpatients who are not suspected of or diagnosed with COVID-19
- Emergency department patients once patients have been moved to a treatment area
- Obstetric patients
- Behavioral health patients
- Clergy may be requested for patients without signs of COVID-19 as long as care is not disrupted
Most visitation will occur 2-6 p.m. daily, although the designated care partner for a patient being treated in the emergency department will have access 24-7. Care partners can leave and return to the facility once every 24 hours, except for care partners for patients in the emergency departments, who may leave the hospital and return once every 12 hours.
For behavioral health patients, visitation hours will be 6-7 p.m. daily but only by appointment.
Only one person can be identified as the designated care partner and will serve in that capacity over the entire duration of the patient’s hospitalization.
Pediatric and obstetric patients were already allowed one adult care partner. Likewise, patients undergoing procedures where anesthesia, moderate or deep sedation are performed – such as minor surgeries, colonoscopies and special radiology procedures – were also allowed to have a care partner wait in the waiting room.
Visitors still cannot visit patients who have COVID-19 or are suspected to have it, except for in end-of-life situations.
Each designated care partner will be screened as they enter a hospital and will be required to mask throughout the visit. If the visitor doesn’t have an appropriate mask, hospital staff will provide a disposable one. The designated visitor must remain in the patient room for the duration of the visit. They may not visit the cafeteria or food court, which will remain limited to staff.
Exceptions requiring approval by the attending doctor and an administrator include the following:
- One care partner may remain with a patient who needs additional assistance, such as patients with special behavioral or physical needs
- Up to three care partners, including those under 18, may visit with a patient in an end-of-life situation, with one who can stay at all times when death is imminent. In some cases, up to three care partners may also be allowed to visit patients with COVID-19 in end-of-life situations
- Clergy visits for patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 at the end of life
Practice settings also will offer expanded visitation in some situations:
- One care partner is allowed for obstetric patients
- One partner is allowed for oncology patients for doctor visits but may not accompany their loved one into infusion areas
- One partner, such as parent or legal guardian, may accompany children to pediatric doctor appointments. Infants two months and younger may be accompanied by both parents
- One partner is allowed for adults who need additional assistance, such as patients with special behavioral or physical needs
- Care partners are not allowed to accompany a patient for laboratory or radiology services unless the patient needs extra help, such as a patient with special behavioral or physical needs.
Prisma Health Lila Doyle in Seneca is not included in the extended visitation. It will maintain its visitor restrictions currently in place in order to follow the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid mandate for all long-term care facilities.