Miami Valley hospitals require masks, update visitor restrictions

Local News

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – As elective procedures resume, hospitals across the Miami Valley are requiring patients and visitors to wear face coverings.

Hospitals within the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association will implement updated visitor restrictions as well as screening and mask policies starting Tuesday, according to Sarah Hackenbracht, the group’s president and CEO.

“The idea is we’re trying to add another layer to try to reduce the chance for transmission, especially as we are seeing more and more people in our community that may not be showing the typical symptoms,” said Dr. Roberto Colon, associate chief medical officer for Miami Valley Hospital.

Dr. Colon told 2 NEWS masks will be required at all Premier Health facilities.

When people are interacting with each other and they’re all wearing masks, it dramatically reduces the risk for the virus to spread, Dr. Colon said.

Nearly 30 hospitals in the Miami Valley will require patients and visitors to wear face coverings in common areas such as hallways and anytime a caregiver is in the room, Hackenbracht said.

“We are starting to see an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in our region, and so we’ve known for a long time that community spread is here,” Hackenbracht said.

Although masks will be available at Premier’s hospital entryways, visitors and patients should bring their own face coverings if they can to ensure best protection and to help conserve protective equipment, Dr. Colon said.

“The one time that we are going to be making sure that there is a surgical mask more so than just a cloth facial covering is when you have a health care provider interacting with a patient,” he explained.

According to the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association, hospital patients will be allowed to have one visitor per day, with some exceptions permitting more visitors, such as those in end-of-life care, maternity and the NICU.

Wearing a face covering helps protect everyone around you at the hospital, including frontline workers, Dr. Colon said.

“We have to make sure that the physicians, the nurses, our entire staff is available to take care of patients,” Dr. Colon said.

Patients will be permitted one support person in the building per day in outpatient, ambulatory, emergency department, and hospital facilities, provided that social distancing policies can be met. However, visitors will not be permitted for outpatient testing such as non-invasive radiology testing, routine x-rays, and lab studies.

Those under 18 years of age will not be permitted to visit unless they are the parent or legal guardian of a pediatric patient.

The following exceptions may apply: 

  • “End of Life” situations;
  • For maternity patients, one (1) additional support person, such as a doula, will be permitted.
  • For minor maternity patients, a parent or guardian will also be permitted.
  • Minor patients (under 18 years of age) may have two (2) visitors in the emergency department and inpatient setting, but this is limited to only parents or guardians;
  • NICU patients will be allowed two (2) visitors for the duration of the patient’s stay with one visitor allowed at a time.
  • Patients who require assistance due to mobility, reorienting/confusion (patient safety), interpretation, court-ordered, or healthcare decision making may have one (1) additional assistance person;    

Visitors will not be permitted for confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients in the hospital, unless they meet one of the above exceptions.

Additionally, hospital officials released the following screening and mask guidelines:

  • All employees, staff, patients, and visitors will be screened for symptoms or exposure history.
  • Visitors will be asked to leave the facility if they have had symptoms in the past 24 hours or exposures in the last 14 days.
  • Employees, staff, patients, and visitors must wash their hands, or use hand sanitizer, before and after leaving rooms and hospital buildings.
  • Visitors should wear a mask when in the common areas of the hospital facility, such as hallways, public restrooms, gift shops, and dining areas.
  • Visitors will be asked to wear their mask when a caregiver is present in a patient room.
  • Patients and visitors may provide and wear their own mask or will be required to accept and wear the mask provided by the hospital facility.
  • Masks or facial coverings must fully cover the nose and mouth.
  • If a visitor refuses to wear a mask, the visitor may be asked to leave the facility.

Exceptions may be made on an individual bases for those who are unable to wear a mask due to health or disability issues.

“We ask for the public’s patience and cooperation as we learn to live with COVID-19 in our region,” Hackenbracht said. “These measures will help our hospitals continue to provide the safe and secure environment our patients need to recover.”

These policies will be implemented on May 19, 2020.

For a complete list of hospitals that will institute the new policies, click here.

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