How to safely allow visitors to your hospital in a COVID-exposed world (third of a seven-part series)
by Andrew Jones
How to manage your visitors
The safety of patients and staff comes first. This will ensure the safety of visitors.
Your visitor policy should help you do the following:
Managing your visitors begins with limiting how many you allow and when. Then limit how many points of entry are open to the public. Since all visitors must be screened and badged, the ideal is one entrance per building.
Once visitors are inside, funnel them to your screening station with clear signage. Don’t make visitors have to figure out where they are supposed to go.
Then, once you have screened a visitor and granted them entry, limit how many you allow at a time for each patient and how long they are allowed to stay. During visiting hours, you must control where you allow them to go, such as common areas like family lounges.
Nobody should get in without going through some kind of screening process. Recommended criteria include:
- Pre-approved – a visitor has an appointment, such as an outpatient, or the situation warrants consent, such as an end-of-life scenario
- Essential – expected (pre-approved) vendors who come for deliveries, maintenance, or repairs
- COVID-free – no current COVID symptoms or recent high-risk contacts
Follow your hospital’s screening process to grant or deny permission to enter. Your policy for how many visitors you allow per room or patient may necessarily delay some visitors. Whatever the outcome, it’s important to follow an official script when you have to disappoint the public, so your message is consistent. When possible, suggest or provide alternatives to in-person visits, like video phone calls on a mobile device.
VERIFY, SIGN IN, and BADGE
Finally, once you have approved visitors to enter, sign them in (preferably with their driver’s license to confirm their identity) and require them to:
- Wear a visitor badge, ideally with a current photo
- Wear a mask
- Practice good hand hygiene, surface avoidance, and social distancing
(Next: Part Four — How to choose the right visitor management system (VMS) for signing in and badging your visitors. Download our complete guide to safely allowing visitors.)
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Posted on 7/15/2020