PRINCETON, N.J., Nov. 20, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — As COVID-19 cases climb in New Jersey, the New Jersey Hospital Association and New Jersey’s hospitals partnered to create a standardized policy for hospital visitation that provides color codes based on the level of virus risk.

The policy is built on data in four key areas: COVID-19 levels in the community; the level of hospitalized COVID-19 patients; staffing levels; and supplies of personal protective equipment. The goal is to balance the importance of visitation for patients and their loved ones with the necessary safety precautions to protect patients, visitors, and staff.

Level Green, reflecting a lower level of COVID-19 risk, permits hospital visitors, with some limits.

  • No visitors are allowed for COVID-19 patients, except for circumstances approved by the care team.
  • No visitors are allowed for those who are immunocompromised, except for circumstances approved by the care team.
  • Other types of patients may have two visitors at a time. They must follow requirements on masking, symptom screening and other precautions.

Level Yellow limits the number of allowed visitors to one at a time.

  • No visitors are allowed for COVID-19 patients, except for circumstances approved by the care team.
  • No visitors are allowed for those who are immunocompromised, except for circumstances approved by the care team.
  • Other types of patients may have one visitor at a time. They must follow requirements on masking, symptom screening and other precautions.

Under Level Red, no visitors are allowed, with limited exceptions.

  • Exceptions may apply to pediatrics, labor and delivery, end of life, and patients with intellectual, developmental, or other cognitive disabilities.
  • All exceptions must be approved by the care team.

“Our hospitals recognize how difficult it is for patients when they are isolated from their families and support systems,” said NJHA President and CEO Cathy Bennett. “Our goal with this color-level visitation policy is to create transparency and consistency, using a data-driven formula that continues to put the safety of patients and staff first and foremost.”

The color levels are applied in hospitals based on region to provide greater consistency for patients and visitors:

  • Northeast (Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Morris, Passaic and Union)
  • Northwest (Hunterdon, Mercer, Somerset, Sussex and Warren)
  • Southeast (Atlantic, Cape May, Monmouth and Ocean)
  • Southwest (Burlington, Camden, Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem)

“We must support the mental and emotional well-being of patients and their families during this once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, but we must do so safely,” said New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “This visitation policy strikes the right balance of allowing for safe visitation for patients who are not immune-compromised while restricting visits in areas of high community spread and limited PPE and staffing.”

The policy is voluntary. It was developed by a work group of hospital leaders, including chief medical officers, and endorsed by the NJHA Board of Trustees.

The new visitation levels take effect this week, and NJHA encourages visitors to check with the hospital for the most current information, especially if they plan to visit loved ones over Thanksgiving. The data will be reassessed weekly to reflect current levels of the virus. Hospitals will update their color levels each Thursday and display the information on their websites.

The policy also includes the following uniform requirements for hospital visitors:

  • All visitors must be 18 years of age or older, except for exceptions approved by the care team.
  • All visitors must wear the appropriate personal protective equipment. Bandanas, gaiters, or masks with exhalation valves are not permitted because they don’t provide sufficient protection.
  • All visitors must undergo symptom and temperature checks upon entering the hospital.
  • All visitors must perform hand hygiene before visiting a patient.
  • Once in the hospital, visitors must remain in the patient’s room (or emergency department bay) throughout the visit, except when directed otherwise by hospital staff.
  • All visitors must comply with hospital requirements to minimize the potential spread of infection.

SOURCE New Jersey Hospital Association (NJHA)

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