SPRINGFIELD — The Department of Public Health (DPH), while not totally restricting visitation, is asking all Massachusetts hospitals, including Baystate Health, to urge potential visitors to consider deferring visitation until further notice due to a national and statewide increase in COVID-19.
The health and safety of patients, families, and staff members is Baystate Health’s top priority, and its care-partner visitation guidelines balance preventing the spread of COVID with the needs of patients and their loved ones. A care partner may be a relative, partner, friend, or anyone the patient chooses to have at their side during care. The number of care partners welcomed will depend on the area of the hospital and patient circumstances.
Visitation changes, effective immediately at all Baystate hospitals — Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Baystate Noble Hospital in Westfield, Baystate Wing Hospital in Palmer, and Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield — include one visitor per day (previously two) for non-COVID adult and pediatric patients in the ICU.
For non-COVID inpatients, there is no change, and one visitor per day is permitted. The policy of no visitation for COVID patients, whether an inpatient or in the ED, remains unless there is a designated exception. Also, non-COVID patients in the ED may still have one care partner if there is space to physically distance. Baytate is also allowing them in the waiting room now if there is space to physically distance.
For COVID and non-COVID patients in the Pediatric ED, one parent at a time is allowed (previously two). For OB patients, one designated care partner is allowed throughout the patient’s stay (previously one care partner plus a second person post-delivery). For surgery patients no care partners are allowed at time of check-in, but one is allowed at the patient’s discharge.
No children under 18 are permitted to visit unless a designated exception applies. Visiting hours remain from noon to 8 p.m.
For those who must visit, DPH recommends that visitors with any symptom or exposure within the past five days should not be permitted into the hospital. Any visitor who had a diagnosis of COVID in the prior 10 days must have been diagnosed at least five days prior to visiting the facility, must be able to wear a facemask at all times, and is strongly encouraged to have received a negative COVID test prior to entering the hospital.
Any visitor who had an exposure to COVID in the prior 10 days must have quarantined for at least five days prior to visiting the facility or have received their booster vaccine or been fully vaccinated recently (within the past five months with the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or two months with the Janssen vaccine), must be able to wear a facemask at all times, and is strongly encouraged to have received a negative COVID test prior to entering the hospital.
“While we are urging potential visitors to defer visitation until the cases of COVID-19 decline in the community, our caregivers understand it can be stressful when a loved one is hospitalized,” said Denise Schoen, chief Patient Experience officer at Baystate Health. “If a child or other family member or friend is unavailable to visit, it can be even more difficult.”
All visitors must adhere to Baystate Health infection-control practices that are in effect throughout the health system, including wearing facemasks at all times, whether in the patient’s room or in other areas of the hospital, and frequent handwashing. Visitors with a fever, cough, or other COVID-19 symptoms will not be able to visit.