With a steady decrease in coronavirus cases, Mount Sinai South Nassau hospital began welcoming back visitors to the hospital on Friday, but under strict guidelines.
While the facility used to welcome a flow of visitors for 24 hours per day before the pandemic, it is now following guidelines recommended by the state’s Department of Health, which means only one visitor per patient can come each day between 4 and 8 p.m. Visitors are not permitted to split the four-hour block up into multiple visitors, only one person can come to see a specific patient per day.
The hospital’s other visitation rules include:
—Visitors must be 18 or older
—Visitors will be required to provide their name and contact information and the name of the patient they are visiting
—Each visitor will undergo a symptom and temperature check upon entering the hospital
—Visitation will be denied to anyone who reports significant exposure to or symptoms of Covid-19 within 14 days of the visit
—Thorough hand hygiene must be performed before entering and upon leaving the patient’s room
—A surgical mask is to be worn at all times; one will be provided if needed
—Additional personal protective equipment will be provided, if indicated
—Once in the facility, the visitor must remain in the patient’s room throughout the visit, except when requested to leave by the staff
Additionally, the Emergency Room is not accepting visitors and the behavioral health unit is only permitting visitors from 6 to 8 p.m. Because there is a statewide ban on nursing home visitation and the hospital’s Transitional Care Unit is a licensed nursing home, visitors are prohibited there at all times
“This is visiting hours in the post-Covid era,” said Joe Calderone, the hospital’s vice president of corporate communications, “meaning it’s not going to be the way it was before Covid. Now, when you come to the hospital, on order of the Health Department, we have to collect people’s contact information, and when they come to the hospital, a number of things are going to be different.”
Calderone added that visitors are going to have to practice social distancing, check-in when they get to the hospital and fill out their contact information on an iPad, so that staff can trace anything they need to in the event of a second wave.
The hospital continues to closely monitor the coronavirus situation and its visitor policy may be altered as the need arises. The new visiting rules are in effect to keep all patients safe from germs. If a visitor has cold or flu-like symptoms, hospital administrators advise them to stay home.
“We recognize that patients who have visitors generally do better and make a faster recovery,” said Richard J. Murphy, the hospital’s president and CEO. “We are as anxious as our patients to reunite them with their loved ones. This is another important step toward returning our hospital to more normal operations. We always operate with our patients’ needs foremost in all we do and having family members present at the bedside is at the top of our list.”
The hospital is taking measures to provide a safe and sterile environment for patients, visitors and staff, thoroughly cleaning and sterilizing all units and departments (as well as its comprehensive network of outpatient specialized health care centers). While a small number of Covid-19 patients are still being treated at MSSN, they are isolated from non-coronavirus patients. The Emergency Department is also screening patients seeking emergency treatment, so non-Covid patients and staff can be in a safe environment.
Patients visiting the hospital for any procedure, oncology or infusion treatment or surgery are required to undergo pre-procedure Covid-19 testing at a new drive-up testing site in the hospital’s Washington Avenue parking lot. The test must be performed no more than two days before the procedure.
Though there are strict guidelines in place, Calderone said enabling visitors to come to the facility again was a big milestone for the hospital.
“It’s been three months since we’ve had visitors in the building,” he said. “It’s good for everyone.. . . Emotionally, no one wants to be in a hospital where you can’t have outside visitors, so the connection with family and friends is critical to the healing process and we recognize that and embrace it. We’re very excited to open up our doors again to the community.”
For more information about Covid-19, visit mountsinai.org/SouthNassau.