UW Medicine limits hospital visitors for patients’ safety


nurse prepares patient bed at UW Medical Center - Montlake
UW Medicine
A nurse prepares a patient bed at UW Medical Center – Montlake.

Starting Wednesday, March 11, all UW Medicine hospitals – UW Medical Center (Montlake and Northwest campuses), Harborview Medical Center, and Valley Medical Center – will suspend routine patient visits. The new policy will be in place until the transmission of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, is no longer perceived as a threat to patients, staff and community.

The decision to restrict visitors was made after careful consideration of policies recently put in place at area schools, houses of worship and other venues to prevent the spread of COVID-19, said Lisa Brandenburg, president of UW Medicine hospitals and clinics.

“This is a difficult decision. It’s not an easy decision to make, but it is critically important that we keep our patients safe during this outbreak,” she said. [See downloadable soundbites below.]

The policy includes exceptions, however, in which visitors will be allowed. Please note that all visitors will be screened, and no visitor will be allowed if they have symptoms of respiratory infection (fever, runny nose, cough, shortness of breath). Additionally, children under age 16 will not be allowed except under extraordinary circumstances.

Exceptions include:

  • Obstetric patients may have one partner and one birth support person accompany them.
  • Nursery and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) patients may have one birth parent plus one significant other who must remain in the room for the duration of the visit.
  • Patients who are at the end-of-life may have two visitors.
  • Patients with disruptive behavior, in which a family member is key to their care, may have one visitor.
  • Patients who have altered mental status or developmental delays (where caregiver provides safety) may have one visitor.
  • Minors under age 18 may have one visitor, parent, or guardian.
  • Patients undergoing surgery or procedures may have 1 visitor who must leave the hospital as soon as possible after the procedure/surgery.
  • Patients who have an appointment at a UW Medicine hospital-based clinic, laboratory, or radiology, as well as those visiting the Emergency Department, may have one person with them.
  • Patients who are receiving lodging services as part of their medical treatment plan are excluded from the visitor restriction policy.

No visitors will be allowed for patients who have a pending or positive COVID-19 test. Visitors allowed must stay in the patients room the entire time of the visit. Once the visitor leaves the patient room, they must leave the medical center.

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