As part of its ongoing preparedness and response effort regarding COVID-19 and in order to protect patients, staff and visitors, the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) today announced changes to the visitor policy at all 13 System hospitals and other UMMS health care facilities. As this is a rapidly-evolving situation, these changes are in effect beginning Wednesday, March 11, at 7:00am until further notice.
Highlights of the Enhanced Patient Safety Policy include:
“The coronavirus disease poses several challenges to an extended family presence at a patient’s bedside including potential spread of the virus to patients and staff by those with asymptomatic or mild infection,” said David Marcozzi, MD, COVID-19 incident commander for UMMS. “Enacting these changes to visitation is consistent with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding response to the coronavirus.
“These enhanced visitor limitations are designed to protect the health and safety of the public, our staff and our patients, now that there are confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Maryland,” added Marcozzi, noting hospitals also implement visitor restrictions during the annual seasonal influenza season as needed.
“We understand this is a challenging time for many in our communities and we are continuing to remain vigilant and work with local, state and federal partners to keep patients and health care workers safe,” added Marcozzi, who is also associate professor and associate chair of population health within the Department of Emergency Medicine at the UM School of Medicine (SOM) and assistant chief medical officer for acute care at the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Certain exceptions to the policy may be made in particular circumstances and with prior approval by the physician administrative officer, including:
In addition to the changes outlined above, based on reports of canine COVID-19 transmission, under the recommendation of infection prevention experts, UMMS is also suspending all animal therapy indefinitely. Service animals will continue to be permitted. Community education and outreach classes and events are being evaluated; as decisions are made regarding possible cancelations, announcements will be made on the UMMS website and social media channels.
UMMS experts urge the public to practice vigilant hand hygiene, follow respiratory etiquette (cover mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing), maintain social distances when possible and avoid shaking hands. These strategies are fundamental to protecting our workforce, patients and the community.
More information about the Enhanced Patient Safety Policy, including a Frequently Asked Questions document, can be found on the UMMS dedicated COVID-19 information webpage, www.umms.org/covid.