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Jacksonville hospitals relax visitation rules as COVID-19 cases decline

Hospital room (KPRC)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Ascension St. Vincent’s announced Friday that it was again relaxing some of its patient visitor restrictions because of a decline in the number of COVID-19 patients in the community.

St. Vincent’s and other area hospitals placed strict limits on visitors to their facilities in early July when cases began to spike in Jacksonville.

Mayo Clinic and Baptist Health have also updated their visitor policies recently.

You can find the current information for each hospital below:

Ascension St. Vincent’s

Hospital campuses will now allow two visitors per patient in inpatient rooms, ERs, operating rooms and other procedural areas.

Three visitors will be allowed for pediatric patients.

The enhanced policies and procedures for safety will continue, including:

  • Universal masking in hospitals and other facilities, including staff and visitors. The hospital will continue to provide masks to those who enter its doors without a mask.
  • Continued screening of staff and screening stations for all visitors to check for COVID-19 symptoms before entry.
  • Social distancing throughout facilities, including in waiting rooms.

If the number of COVID-19 patients begins to rise again, hospital administrators will reassess the policy and make changes as needed.

Anyone suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 will not be allowed to visit (with a few exceptions):

  • Obstetric patients IN LABOR who have the virus but have no symptoms of COVID-19 will be allowed to have one support person wearing a surgical mask for the duration of their stay.
  • COVID-19 patients who are at the end of life will be allowed one visitor who is wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).

If a designated person wishes to visit a patient who has COVID-19, they must work directly with the patient’s care team to schedule the visit to allow for:

  • The care team to evaluate risk to the health of the visitor (for example, ensuring the visitor does not have underlying illnesses putting them at higher risk for COVID-19) and assess the visitor’s ability to comply with precautions.
  • Providing instructions before a visitor enters a patient’s room, including instructions on hand hygiene, limiting surfaces touched, and the required correct use of personal protective equipment according to current facility policy and CDC guidelines.
  • Ensuring visitors are not present during procedures.
  • Ensuring visitors know to only visit the patient’s room and not go to any other location in the facility.

Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic has taken steps to make each of its campuses a safe place for patients to receive care in the COVID-19 environment. The hospital’s clinical care teams will carefully coordinate any face-to-face visits that may be needed, including office visits, procedures, diagnostic testing, radiology imaging or lab tests.

For the safety of patients and staff, enhanced protective measures will continue during face-to-face visits, such as screening all patients, visitors and staff before entering our facilities, masking, limits on patient visitors (including child visitors not receiving care) and promotion of social distancing.

Safety measures in place for your visit

  • All patients and staff are screened before entrance into all clinic locations.
  • All patients and staff are required to wear masks while on-site. If you do not have a mask, one will be provided.
  • Acceptable masks include homemade, surgical, dust, or N95 masks.
  • Masks should NOT contain an exhalation valve or vent as these permit unfiltered air to escape.

All surgical patients are tested for COVID-19 between 24 and 48 hours prior to their scheduled surgery date. Testing takes place at Mayo Clinic and results are finalized within 24 hours due to on-site processing capabilities.

Visitation guidelines: Florida

Patients in the outpatient clinic and hospital may have only one individual accompany them. See below for additional details.

In order to ensure the safety of hospital patients and staff, no visitors will be allowed in the emergency department.

Outpatient clinics

  • The hospital encourages visitors to stay at home. If needed, one visitor will be allowed to accompany you in an outpatient clinic.
  • For the safety of your loved ones and others, the hospital asks that you not bring children under age 13 unless they are actively receiving care in the clinic setting.
  • Due to additional screening activities when entering Mayo Clinic buildings, please allow extra time upon arrival (approximately 15 minutes). Visitors must be free of fever and respiratory symptoms.

Hospital setting and emergency department

  • All patients admitted to the Mayo Clinic Hospital in Florida will be allowed one specified visitor during their hospitalization between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.
  • The assigned visitor must remain the same throughout the duration of the patient’s hospital stay; no visitor exchanges will be allowed at this time.
  • No visitors will be allowed within the emergency department.
  • No visitors will be allowed to visit COVID-19 positive patients at this time. Exceptions may include considerations for end-of-life care, hospitalized children, and other rare and unique circumstances as assessed by the care team.

“Your cooperation with these new, temporary guidelines is very much appreciated,” the hospital wrote on its website. “It is difficult to not be able to visit your friends and family, but these are necessary and appropriate steps taken with the safety and protection of your loved ones as our top priority.”

Appointment and contact information

  • To reach the Florida scheduling office, call 904-953-0853 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday, or contact the hospital online.
  • The hospital is also scheduling any testing and imaging studies you may need as part of your care.
  • If you are unable to travel to Mayo Clinic, a telephone or video appointment may be available to meet your care needs. If a video appointment is suggested for you, a Patient Online Services account will be needed. The hospital can assist you with this when you schedule.

During this time, as always, the needs of our patients come first, the hospital said.

Baptist Health

At Baptist Health, only one designated visitor will be allowed to wait during an inpatient surgery to get word from the care team, and one designated visitor is allowed each day for adult inpatient care.

Visitors to the facilities should be limited to those essential for the patient’s physical or emotional well-being and care (such as his/her care partner or parent). Visitors must be 18 years of age or older. All permitted visitors will be screened and checked for COVID-19 symptoms.

The hospital requires all patients and permitted visitors to wear masks or cloth facial coverings at all Baptist Health facilities. Please bring your ID and allow at least 15 minutes to complete the visitor check-in, which includes safety education.

Hospital visitation hours are 8 am to 8 pm, with special exceptions for pediatrics and labor & delivery.

In addition to the adult inpatient and surgery visitors, permitted visitors may include:

  • Adult Emergency Center: One designated visitor.* If the patient is admitted, the inpatient visitation policy will apply.
  • Outpatient Surgery: One designated visitor.*
  • Labor and Delivery: Two designated visitors* for the entire stay of the mother. This may include a spouse/partner, loved one or doula.
  • Pediatric (excluding NICU): Two adult parents/guardians for the duration of the stay. Other children may not be brought along for the visit and may not be left unattended while the parent/guardians visit the patient.
  • NICU: Up to two designated adult visitors for the entire stay of the child. No rotating visitors for NICU patients.
  • Hospice: Two loved ones will be permitted.
  • End-of-life: Two loved ones will be permitted. Care teams will arrange visitation on a case-by-case basis.
  • Baptist MD Anderson Cancer Center: One visitor over 18 years of age permitted.

*Who is a designated visitor?

All hospital and emergency center visitors are registered into Baptist’s system upon entry. The designated visitor of the day may come and go, but may not switch out with another visitor in the same day.

For more information, click here.

About the Author:

A Jacksonville native and proud University of North Florida alum, Francine Frazier has been with News4Jax since 2014 after spending nine years at The Florida Times-Union.