RWJBarnabas Health to permit patient visitation, resume specialty care services

PHOTO COURTESY OF MICHAEL SIMON

Due to the steady decline in the number of individuals with COVID-19 in New Jersey, RWJBarnabas Health announces that effective immediately, all hospitals in the system will begin permitting visitation within defined safety parameters.

Visitation for patients with confirmed COVID-19 will still be restricted to extenuating circumstances only such as hospice or end of life.

Under the guidance of the New Jersey Department of Health, visitors will be allowed as outlined below:

  • All visitors must be 18 years of age or older, except in rare exceptions as determined by the facility.
  • Adult Inpatient Acute Care Units:  one person per patient at a time is permitted between the hours of noon and 8 p.m.
  • Pediatric Units: two parents or guardians are permitted at any time where the patient is a minor.
  • Neonatal Intensive Care Units: two parents/support persons are permitted at any time.
  • Maternity and Labor & Delivery units:  one significant other/support person is permitted. Once in the labor and delivery unit, the designated support person must have extremely limited access to the other areas of the hospital and will not be permitted to leave and reenter the unit.
  • Emergency Department: one visitor per patient is permitted at any time for adult patients. Two parents or guardians are permitted at any time where the patient is a minor.
  • Behavioral Health Adult Units: no visitors permitted until further notice.
  • Pediatric Psychiatric Patients: only one parent/guardian is permitted if/when a mutual agreement between the care team and the parents/guardian has been reached.
  • Visitors may not be present during procedures or in the recovery room, except for pediatrics, childbirth, and patients with an intellectual, developmental or other cognitive disability.
  • Same day surgery or procedure patients, except for pediatrics, and patients with an intellectual, developmental, or other cognitive disability, may have one support person prior to and after the procedure. The support person may remain with the patient through the initial intake process and may rejoin the patient for the discharge process.
  • Outpatients may be accompanied by one adult. Visitors may wait for the patient in the hospital or facility’s designated waiting area (subject to physical space availability), while the patient is having his/her procedure.
  • All visitors must undergo symptom and temperature checks upon entering any of our facilities. If they present with fever or symptoms, they will not be allowed entry into the facility as recommended by the CDC.

All visitors must perform hand hygiene before visiting a patient and once in the hospital or facility, visitors shall remain in the patient’s room (or Emergency Department bay) as much as possible throughout the visit, except when directed by hospital or facility staff to leave during aerosol-generating procedure or other procedures in which visitors are usually asked to leave.
Additionally, upon arrival all visitors will be provided with and must wear appropriate PPE as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Visitors will need a procedure mask only unless an individual is permitted to visit a COVID-19 positive patient because of extenuating circumstances. In this situation, staff will direct the visitor on the appropriate PPE. At the time of entrance, all visitors will be provided instruction on how to wear face masks. If a visitor refuses to wear a mask or other PPE as indicated, that individual will be asked to leave the facility.

More details and additional information on the RWJBarnabas Health visitation guidelines can be found at: https://www.rwjbh.org/patients-visitors/what-you-need-to-know-about-covid-19/general-visitation-guidelines/.
“RWJBarnabas Health has developed policies and procedures to prioritize and ensure the health and safety of all patients, visitors and staff in preventing the spread of COVID-19,” said John F. Bonamo, MD, MS, FACOG, FACPE, executive vice president, chief medical and quality officer of RWJBarnabas Health. “One of the most important safeguards established to achieve this goal has been restricting visitation in our facilities. However, we recognize the vital role that family members and loved ones have in the healing and well-being of our patients and with declining numbers in the state we are happy to announce that visitors will be permitted again.”
Safe Resumption of Specialty Care Services

Now that the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in New Jersey has passed, RWJBarnabas Health has resumed specialty care services to continue to safely and reliably serve its surrounding communities and provide care for all patients. Patients no longer need to delay care which can put them at increased health risks. Through a thoughtful and structured approach and following adherence to all public health guidance and regulatory policies, RWJBarnabas Health’s specialty programs are now able to provide more robust clinical operations including treatments, diagnoses, screenings and elective surgery procedures.

“We recognize that patients and their families may be apprehensive about of seeking medical care at this time, but we have taken every precaution to welcome them back safely. We also know that many people have been putting off care due to the pandemic but we want them to know that it’s safe to come back and encourage them to minimize potential health risks by not putting off care any longer,” said Dr. Bonamo. “As a high reliability organization, safety comes first and is embedded in everything we do. We are taking the appropriate precautions and using best practices to continue to ensure the highest quality care, protection, support and comfort for all of our patents.”
To provide appropriate care and reduce risk of infection for caregivers, patients and staff, all patients admitted to any RWJBarnabas hospital will have a COVID-19 test as part of the pre-admission testing process including scheduled elective surgeries and Emergency Department patients. Elective surgery patients will be required to self-quarantine following testing and up until the day of surgery. Additionally, all those entering an RWJBH facility, including patients, visitors, vendors, staff and physicians will have their temperature checked with an infrared thermometer upon arrival, will be asked be asked screening questions about COVID-19 symptoms, per CDC guidelines and will receive a COVID-19 test. Those who present with a fever over 100 degrees or who answer “yes” to any symptoms will be directed to a specifically designated area for counseling. All patients who are COVID-19 positive or presumptive positive will continue to be separated from the general patient population.

Additional safety measures include:

  • Adherence to the guidance and established criteria of the CDC, the American Hospital Association, leading national associations of nurses, surgeons and anesthesiologists and the New Jersey Department of Health
  • Staff vigilance regarding the appropriate use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) with all patients, including COVID-19 positive and non-COVID patients
  • Stringent cleaning and disinfection throughout our facilities and in all rooms, including equipment and surfaces, frequently and between patients
  • Active screening of all team members, patients and visitors upon entering a facility for temperature and symptoms
  • Requiring everyone who enters a facility to wear a mask or face covering, per CDC universal masking guidelines and our RWJBarnabas Health mask policy
  • Social and physical distancing measures for all people in our facilities – in all employee and patient areas – such as minimizing time in waiting areas, spacing chairs at least six feet apart, marking floors with tape at proper intervals and maintaining low patient flow so as not to cause crowding
  • Strict hand hygiene and availability of hand sanitizer in all employee and patient areas
  • Virtual communication for patients to connect with their loved ones needed now with visitation?

Additional information on the safety measures being taken by RWJBarnabas Health can be found at www.rwjbh.org/patients-visitors/what-you-need-to-know-about-covid-19/ensuring-your-safety-at-our-facilities/.