Important Information


The new guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for fully vaccinated persons against COVID-19 do not apply to healthcare settings. Visitors, regardless of their vaccination status, should wear a well-fitting cloth mask, face mask, or respirator. Please go to COVID19.SanAntonio.gov to find information on public vaccine sites.

Patient Visitation and Risk Screening for COVID-19

If your child is a patient at Methodist Children’s Hospital, please review the Methodist Children’s Hospital visitor policy instead.

Purpose

Visitation guidance is designed for the health and safety of all patients and employees in the interest of limiting exposure to respiratory illness and containment of the COVID-19 virus while balancing patient needs for family support.

Definitions

Patient Representative (as defined by CMS): The patient's representative is the individual who is legally responsible for making medical decision on the patient's behalf. See also, Advance Directives Withholding & Withdrawing Life Sustaining Treatment and Treatment Disagreement Process and Consent to Medical Treatment.

Patient Support Person (as defined by CMS): The patient's support person does not necessarily have to be the same person as the patient's representative. A support person could be a family member, friend, or other individual who support the patient during the course of the hospital stay. Child Protective Services (CPS) may assign someone as the support person for a pediatric patient as part of the CPS Safety Plan.

Qualifying Period of Disaster (QPD): Texas House Bill 2211 defines a QPD as the period of time the area in which a hospital is located is declared to be a disaster based on an infectious disease. The declaration can be made by the governor, other state official, or political subdivision of the state.

Policy

  1. Visiting rules are based on patient health and safety.
  2. Patients are informed of their visitation rights at the time of registration and again at the time that any patient or patient's representative has questions regarding the rights.
  3. Patients have the right and authority to designate who may or may not visit, including, but not limited to, a spouse, domestic partner (including a same-sex domestic partner), another family member, friend, attorney, physician, or clergyman at any reasonable time. Patients have the right to withdraw or deny visiting consent at any time.
  4. During a QPD, a hospital may restrict the number of visitors for a patient to one visitor unless the attending physician determines that the in-person visitation with that patient may lead to the transmission of an infectious agent that poses a serious community health risk. See procedure 6 – 8 for additional details.
  5. Visitors will not be restricted or otherwise denied visitation privileges on the basis of age, race, color, national origin, religion, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, or disability of either the patient (or the patient's support person or representative, where appropriate).
  6. Patients have the right to speak privately with anyone he/she wishes (subject to hospital visiting regulations) unless a doctor does not think it is medically advised.
  7. Media representatives and photographers must contact the hospital spoke person for access to the hospital. See also, Release of Information to News Media and Photographing, Video Recording, Audio Recording, and Other Imaging of Patients, Visitors and Workforce Members
  8. The hospital accepts a patient's designation, orally or in writing, of their support person. The support person may exercise a patient's visitation rights on behalf of the patient with respect to other visitors when the patient is unable to do so. If an individual asserts that he or she, as the patient's spouse, domestic partner (including a same-sex domestic partner), parent of other family member, friend, or otherwise is the patient's support person, the hospital accepts their right to exercise the patient's rights on the patient's behalf.
  9. All visitors have full and equal visitation privileges consistent with patient preferences and subject to any clinically necessary or other reasonable restriction or limitation that may need to be placed on such rights. Examples of situations that might be a basis to impose health and safety restrictions or limitations include (but are not limited to): a. an infection control issue b. visitation that interferes with the care of the patient or other patients. c. knowledge of an existing court order restricting contact d. the visitor is disruptive and the patient or patient's roommate(s) is in need of rest or privacy e. the patient or patient's roommate is undergoing a care intervention that requires privacy/space, etc. f. if there is a need for a brief time period when communication must be done between caregivers and patient. g. if the number of visitors may compromise the safety of the physical environment and/or compromise the ability to access life safety measures/equipment.
  10. One adult overnight visitor is allowed in private rooms. In semi-private, the health, safety and privacy of both patients must be taken into consideration. Overnight visitors in adult semi-private rooms must be same sex as the patients in the room. Roommates may only have overnight visitors with agreement by both patients.
  11. Minors are welcome to visit however; minors under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a responsible adult. The responsible adult cannot be the patient.
  12. In the event that a patient has both a representative and a support person who are not the same individual, and they disagree on who should be allowed to visit the patient, the hospital must defer to the decisions of the patient's representative. The hospital's Bioethics Review Team may be utilized to help resolve the conflict.

Procedure

  1. Upon entry to the building, all visitors, will be screened for respiratory symptoms, exposure to COVID-19. This guidance will remain in place until further notice.
  2. If there is a clinical justification to limit or restrict visitation, the staff member will inform the visitor of the reason when asking them to leave.
  3. If a declaration of Qualified Period of Disaster (QPD) has been made by state officials, MHS hospitals may:
    1. Restrict the number of visitors for a patient to one visitor (at least one visitor must be allowed per patient during the QPD);
    2. Require the visitor to
      1. Complete a health screening before entering the hospital
      2. Wear PPE at all times while visiting the hospital. PPE supplied to visitor will include face shield/ eye protection, gown and non-fit tested N95 mask, if available.
      3. Deny entry, or remove from the hospital's premises, a visitor who fails or refuses to submit to or meet the requirements of the hospital's health screening and/or wear PPE that meets the hospital's infection control and safety requirements as prescribed by the hospital.
  1. If the attending physician determines that in-person visitation with the patient may lead to the transmission of an infectious agent that poses a serious health risk, the attending physician may write an order denying the patient of visitation. This order is valid for five days and may be renewed by an attending physician.
  2. If a visitor is denied in-person visitation because of a determination made by an attending physician, the attending physician must:
    1. Provide a written, oral or virtual update daily of the patient's condition and estimated discharge date to the visitor if the visitor is authorized to receive the patient's health information (in an advance directive, medical power of attorney, or identified surrogate decision maker) and
    2. Document daily update given, with the projected discharge date, in the progress note.
  3. MHS will not deny in person visitation by a religious counselor (pastoral or other religious capacity) for a patient who is receiving care or treatment at the hospital and who is seriously ill or dying for any reason other than the religious counselor's failure to comply with institutional policies and procedures or if such visitation is barred by federal law of agency.
  4. The use of alternative communication tools (tablets, phones, etc.) is encouraged for patients.

Visitor screening:

  • Have no known close contact with someone confirmed to have COVID-19 within the last 14 days
  • Have no fever
  • Have no signs or symptoms of lower respiratory illness (per the screening guidelines)
  • Wear a mask at all times, in and outside the patient room. Visitors who refuse to comply will be escorted from the facility.
  • Follow social distancing guidelines at all times. Visitors who refuse to comply will be escorted from the facility.

Visitation Instructions for Visitors Who Will Visit a Patient With COVID–19

What you can expect from Methodist Healthcare System

Each visitor will receive education from a Methodist Healthcare System clinical staff member on appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) use, hand hygiene, safe surface touch, social distancing, and movement within the facility. The education will include training and observation on putting on and taking off PPE, hand hygiene, and disposal of PPE.

All visitors will be assessed to determine risks to their health by a clinical member of the hospital staff.

On each visit, Methodist Healthcare System will provide the following PPE:

  • A non fit-tested N95 if available. If a non fit-tested N95 is not available a level 1 procedure mask will be issued.
  • A face shield
  • A gown

What Methodist Healthcare System expects of its visitors

Visitors understand that visits to locations with COVID–19 patients will be limited to a visitors who meets visitor criteria.

Visitors are expected to schedule visitations times to allow enough time for screening, education, and training of visitors. To schedule a visit, please contact the patient’s nurse. All visits must be approved in advance and visitation times will be restricted and time-limited.

Visitors must be 18 or older, have no known close contact with someone confirmed to have COVID–19 within the last 14 days, and no pending tests for COVID–19. Visitors will be screened for signs or symptoms of lower respiratory illness, and will not be permitted to visit if signs or symptoms are present.

The visitor is expected to limit movement within the facility. Visitors must agree to only visit the patient they are caring for and will not go to other locations in the facility.

Visitation Instructions for Visitors Who Will Visit a Patient With COVID–19

All visitors are expected to be assessed to determine risks to their health by a clinical member of the hospital staff. Visitors understands that visiting a patient with COVID-19 puts the visitor at risk for exposure to COVID–19. The visitor agrees to accept all responsibility for that risk.

Visitors are expected to receive education on appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) use, hand hygiene, limiting surface touches, social distancing, and movement within the facility. The training will include observations of the visitor to ensure correct PPE are worn safely, and appropriate hand hygiene. Appropriate disposal of PPE will be ensured by facility staff. The visitor understands that PPE should not be shared and must be properly disposed of after each visit. Visitors understand that they are expected to properly wear PPE.

Visitors understand that they will be asked to leave if the patient needs to undergo certain aerosol-generating procedures or the collection of respiratory specimens is needed during the set visitation time.

The visitor will be expected to leave the facility if they cannot comply with the Visitation Instructions for Visitors who will Visit a Patient with COVID–19.

The visitor is encouraged to ask questions if they do not understand these guidelines.

Circumstances may allow for specific exceptions to any visitation restrictions described on this webpage. Those circumstances include religious visitation as well as a designated support person for a patient with a disability to provide assistance with communication or other necessary components of the patient's treatment. All persons entering under an exception remain subject to appropriate infection control protocols.