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Visitation Policy

COVID-19 Visitation Restriction Policy

Updated July 22, 2022

DCH Health System follows current CDC guidelines regarding COVID-19 Infection Prevention and Control for Healthcare Settings and will update guidance based on currently available information about COVID-19.

DCH’s limited visitation policy remains in force and will be adjusted based on:

  • COVID-19 Community Transmission Rate (as defined by the Alabama Department of Public Health).
  • Availability of staffing.
  • Availability of personal protective equipment.

Many physician offices in DCH medical office buildings are independent of DCH and have their own visitation rules. If you are coming for a doctor’s appointment, please contact the clinic’s office prior to arrival to verify their requirements.

Visitation regulations for long-term care facilities differ from hospital requirements. The visitation guidelines for Fayette Medical Center’s Long Term Care facility are updated as conditions change and can be found here https://www.dchsystem.com/locations/fayette-medical-center/long-term-care-covid-updates/.

Visitation restriction guidelines for other areas are outlined below. The following visitor restriction policy is effective at 12:01 a.m. on July 1, and will remain in force until further notice.

Current COVID-19 Community Transmission Level

  • Tuscaloosa County = High

See the following link and click on the “Community Transmission” tab: https://alpublichealth.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?appid=d84846411471404c83313bfe7ab2a367

Visitation Requirements for All during High Transmission Levels

This section describes requirements for any approved support person. Support person limitations are outlined by category in the subsequent sections.

Unless otherwise noted, visitation hours are from 4:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. From 9 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. each day, no new visitors will be allowed except for extenuating circumstances such as end-of-life events. Only one support person is allowed to stay overnight but that person must check in with security and receive a visitor badge when visitation closes at 9 p.m.

Each patient room at DCH Regional Medical Center and Northport Medical Center will have one (or two based on the area) visitation passes available for pickup at the main security entrance for that area. To visit a patient you must have a pass associated with that patient’s room. For another person to visit that patient, the pass must be returned to security as the individual leaves the building. A new person can then check in and receive the visitation pass. If the pass is not returned then the patient can receive no new visitors that day.

Patients cannot leave their care area to go outside to visit with others.

  • Unless otherwise noted, any support person allowed into an area must:
    • Wear a mask at all times.
    • Wear additional personal protective equipment in certain circumstances if deemed necessary by the clinical staff.
    • Agree to practice appropriate hand hygiene.
    • Remain in the patient’s room or the assigned waiting room (where space for proper social distancing is available; otherwise, the visitor will be asked to leave until space becomes available) except for basic personal needs.
    • Be courteous and kind to the staff and others.
    • Follow all clinical staff instructions.
    • Be at least 12 years old. Children 12 to 18 years old are approved for short periods of supervised visitation in both inpatient and critical care areas. Exceptions for younger children for end of life or special circumstances may be made under the direction of the clinical care team. Children (12 to 18 years old) must be accompanied and supervised by an adult (19 years or older) at all times.

Where possible, calls or video chats should be used for situations such as visits or family/caregiver education.

If a patient condition changes (for better or worse and including a positive COVID-19 diagnosis), then the visitation restriction guidelines for the new situation will apply.

COVID-19 and PUI Patients

  • One support person will be allowed at a time for any COVID-19 positive patients other than end-of-life events, palliative care and/or corresponding consultations.
    • The support person must check in with the nurse’s station and receive instructions.
    • The support person must use, at all times, approved personal protective equipment during the visit and will be required to follow all clinical staff instructions related to the visit.

COVID-19 End of Life Events

  • A maximum of two support people at a time may visit for end-of-life events, palliative care and/or corresponding consultations as long as sufficient personal protective equipment is available and used at all times during the visit.
    • Support people must check in with the nurse’s station and receive instructions.
    • Support people will be required to follow all clinical staff instructions related to the visit.

Non-COVID Inpatients

Each non-COVID-19 positive patient can have up to two support people (with exceptions noted below) in the patient’s room as long as this can be done without hindering the staff’s ability to provide appropriate care.

ICU Units

  • Due to the presence of specialized equipment and the need for rapid access, ICU visitation will continue to be limited. Visitation may be limited due to the patient’s medical condition. Up to two support people at a time per ICU patient.

NICU

  • Up to two support people at a time per NICU patient. A maximum of two support people may visit per day.
    • Each support person must have a patient identification band.
    • Support people for NICU patients are exempt from the general visitation hours.
    • To avoid overcrowding, NICU staff may need to limit the total number of people in the unit at any given time. Support people must comply with these restrictions if implemented.

Outpatient Cancer Treatment

  • One support person per outpatient cancer treatment patient for the initial consultation, change in treatment and/or test results discussion only due to the compromised immune system of the patients.
  • One support person per outpatient cancer treatment patient for treatment (only if the patient is insufficiently healthy or not mobile enough to proceed without assistance; otherwise, no visitors).

Inpatient Rehab

  • Visitors must sign in at the nurse’s station.

Emergency Department

  • Up to one support person may accompany a patient in the Emergency Department waiting area only if the patient is elderly or has a condition that requires assistance.
  • One support person may accompany a patient who is 19 years or older in the Emergency Department once the patient has been placed in a private room. For patients 18 years or younger, up to two support people may accompany the patient once the patient has been placed in a private room.
    • Each support person must wait outside of the building until the private room has been assigned and they have been called by the staff with instructions on how to enter.
    • Each support person for any COVID-19 positive or PUI patients must use, at all times, approved personal protective equipment during the visit and will be required to follow all clinical staff instructions related to the visit.
  • Each support person must remain in the patient’s room.
  • If the ED patient is admitted, then each support person will need to move his or her vehicle and go through the inpatient visitor check-in process (South Lobby entrance at DCH Regional Medical Center). The visitor will not be allowed to accompany the patient as he or she is transferred to an inpatient unit from the ED.

North Harbor

  • No support person is allowed. At this time visits must be conducted by phone.