Amended hospital visitation guidelines for level 1
Allowing patients to be visited by their loved ones is an essential part of their recovery and wellness.
At a recent Digicon, the Head of Health, Dr Keith Cloete, said if there is one thing the Department learnt during this COVID pandemic is to “act with compassion”. While very little was known of COVID-19, it is a fact that it is highly transmissible. During the onset of the pandemic in the Western Cape, the Department acted quickly to safeguard both staff and patients, by de-escalating certain non-essential services and prohibited visitations. This was all done to reduce the number of people gathering at certain place, ensuring physical distance can be adhered to – all with the best interest and safety of the citizens of the Western Cape.
No-one knew this pandemic would still be with us one year later. During this period the Department has learnt so much – not just on fighting the pandemic but also the valuable role families play to the recovery process of those patients in hospital. The families have also had a tough time being restricted from visiting, often being very anxious about the wellbeing of their loved ones.
We understand that it is also reassuring for young patients or the elderly to have an escort present when visiting the emergency room or outpatients’ department. Taking this learning forward and understanding the importance of connecting patients with their loved ones, several hospitals made use of technology to bring relief to patients who are hospitalized. Hospitals rolled out the use of tablets to allow patients to connect with their loved ones through video calls.
The Department has also recently adjusted its visitation guidelines during Level 1 regulations by allowing visitations to recommence, but under strict safety precautions.
This will definitely bring much relief to both patient and family members in the recovery process and the support offered respectively.
The amended visitation guidelines include:
- Visitors and escorts are only allowed at health facilities under special circumstances and must be screened at the entrance of the facility.
- One escort is only allowed for paediatric, disabled, vulnerable, or weak patients.
- Emergency Unit:
- Paediatric patients – one escort allowed to accompany patient into emergency room.
- Terminal patients – family members allowed to be present, but only one or two family members allowed to be present at a time.
- Disabled/vulnerable patients – one escort may be allowed depending on situation. Will be assessed on a case-to-case basis.
- All other patients: One escort who will remain in waiting room if there is sufficient space.
- Inpatients (adults):
- Limited to 30 minutes visitation per visitor.
- Visiting time period of 60 minutes per day. Confirm with hospital what the ward’s visiting hours are before visiting.
- Terminally ill patients allowed to be visited by loved ones. Restricted to 30 min per person per day – more people and longer time at discretion of ward manager.
- Critically ill patients allowed one designated visitor once per day.
- Inpatients (paediatric):
- One parent/caregiver can be with the patient.
- Parent/caregiver can alternate with other parent/caregiver, but only one allowed with patient at a time.
- More family members allowed for terminal patients for 30 minutes, one person at a time. More people and longer time slots at discretion of ward manager.
- Neonatal patients:
- Mother can remain with patient or regularly visit.
- Birthing partner or one designated person can visit daily for 30 minutes. Longer visitation at discretion of ward manager.
- Maternity & labour:
- COVID-19 positive patients in labour – no birthing partners allowed.
- COVID-19 negative patients in labour – one birthing partner during active labour if sufficient space and privacy available.
- C-section: Birthing partners not allowed in theatre but can visit mother and baby for 30 minutes in postnatal ward.
- Post-natal ward: Birthing partner allowed to visit mother and new-born for 30 minutes per day during visiting period.
- COVID-19 and PUI patients:
- No visitors allowed.
- Can drop off parcels (toiletries, food, books, etc.)
- Exceptions will be made for terminally ill patients.
- All other non-terminally ill adult patients not allowed visitors. Parcels (toiletries, food, books) can be dropped off at facility. Family will be updated on patient’s condition – please ensure they have the correct contact number on file.
With the COVID-19 virus still present we must remain vigilant to avoid congestion and to maintain a safe physical distance between peopleThese guidelines will be assessed and implemented according to each facility’s current situation and capacity. They are also dependent on where we find ourselves during the pandemic keeping the best interest and safety of both staff and patients' top priority. Therefore, we have already adopted virtual communication as a means when someone cannot be visited to connect with family members in the future. Please call the relevant facility before visiting to ask about their visitation guidelines.
All patients and visitors to maintain the following safety precautions: wear a mask over your mouth and nose, maintain a physical distance, ensure good ventilation, and wash or sanitise hands often.