UW Medicine limits hospital visitors as COVID-19 precaution

News Release

November 18, 2020
For immediate release

UW Medicine limits hospital visitors as COVID-19 precaution

Recent rapid increase in incidence spurs action to protect patients, staff, and community, says health system's president. 

Media Contact: 

Susan Gregg - 206.616.6730, sghanson@uw.edu

[Editor's note: The second bulleted item below, regarding obstetrics patients, has been revised. - 9:25 a.m. PDT Nov. 20]

Beginning today, Nov. 18, 2020, UW Medicine is restricting visits in its hospitals and clinics. Routine visiting policies are suspended until the transmission of COVID-19 is no longer a threat.

UW Medicine’s patient care philosophy depends greatly on engaging families in the healing process. Due to the recent, rapid increase in COVID-19 cases in our community, however, we are restricting visitors for the safety of patients, staff, and community. 

This decision was difficult and made with careful consideration, said Lisa Brandenburg, president of UW Medicine Hospitals & Clinics.  "It’s not an easy decision, but it’s critically important that we keep our patients, staff and community safe during this outbreak," she said. 

We also recognize that there are times when having a visitor or family member present is crucial. In these cases, visitors will be allowed based on the exceptions listed below.

Hospital inpatient visitors will be allowed based on the following exceptions:

  • Patients who are under the age of 18 may have one visitor or parent or guardian.
  • Obstetrics patients may have one healthy visitor and/or a doula with them during labor and delivery. Both the visitor and/or doula are expected to remain at bedside and be masked at all times. The doula must leave immediately two hours after delivery. In rare cases, a second support person other than a doula may be allowed with special permission.  
  • Patients who need a caregiver for safety because of their mental, developmental status or for their disability such as blindness and/or hearing loss may have one caregiver.
  • Patients undergoing surgery or procedures may have one visitor. When the surgery or procedure is complete and the physician has discussed the findings with the visitor (as appropriate), the visitor must leave the medical center.
  • Patients may have a home caregiver who needs to be trained as their single visitor.
  • Patients visiting the Emergency Department may have one person with them.
  • Community-based care providers involved in the care of the patient may visit in addition to the patient’s one visitor for support and care continuity.
  • Patients who are at the end of life may have two visitors.
  • Children under age 16 will not be allowed except under extraordinary circumstances.

UW Medicine outpatient clinics will allow visitors based on the following exceptions:

  • Patients under age 18 may have one adult accompany them.
  • Other patients who need a caregiver due to a disability may have one adult accompany them.
  • Postpartum patients may bring their newborns.
  • Children under age 16 will not be allowed except under extraordinary circumstances.

The following restrictions apply in all cases:

  • Visitors cannot have tested positive or have been in contact with anyone who tested positive for COVID-19 within the previous 14 days.
  • Visitors will only be allowed if they do not have symptoms of COVID-19: fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, or diarrhea.
  • In hospitals, visitors must follow masking requirements and cannot bring food or drink with them. Visitors must stay in the patient’s room the entire time of the visit. Once the visitor leaves the patient room, they must leave the medical center.
  • In outpatient clinics, patients and visitors must follow masking requirements and may not consume food or beverages during their visit, including in lobby areas.
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