RWJBarnabas Health began banning visitors to its numerous hospital and health care facilities (with limited exceptions) on Sunday, citing a need to protect patients, staff and the visitors themselves during the rise in COVID-19 cases caused by the Omicron variant.
“We encourage family members and friends to use alternative ways to interact with their loved ones, including phone calls, Facetime, Skype and other means,” an RWJBH spokesperson said in a release.
The limited exceptions include:
- Pediatric units (only one parent/guardian will be permitted);
- Maternity and labor & delivery units (only one significant other/support person is permitted);
- Neonatal intensive care units (two parents/support persons are permitted);
- Pediatric psychiatric patients (only one parent/guardian, if/when a mutual agreement between the care team and the parents/guardians has been reached);
- Patients with disabilities, where the disability may be due to altered mental status, intellectual or cognitive disability, communication barriers or behavioral concerns (one designated support person is allowed to remain with the patient).
All visitors 18 years of age and under will not be permitted.
RWJBH said extenuating circumstances to the temporary guidelines and individual requests will always be considered based on the best interest and needs of the individual patient. These extenuating circumstances include but are not limited to:
- Patients on hospice or at the end of life;
- Patients who are critically unstable;
- Patients undergoing surgery or procedures (one single-time visitor immediately after the procedure may be permitted);
- Patients in need of a medical guardian or decision-maker;
- At the discretion of the hospital, one visitor may be able to accompany a patient in ambulatory care or other outpatient areas.
In addition to the above, gatherings of family members, friends and other acquaintances of the patient in family lounges, waiting areas, the lobby, cafeteria or restaurants on campus will not be allowed.
All approved visitors must wear a mask at all times and should wash their hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer before and after visiting.