Community Medical Center Eases Visitor Rules

Karen Wall

TOMS RIVER, NJ — Community Medical Center will begin allowing patient visitors again, under strict guidelines, because the cases of the coronavirus in New Jersey are continuing to decrease.

RWJ Barnabas Health made the announcement on Monday, along with safety rules that apply across its hospital network. The new rules follow guidelines issued by the state Department of Health.

For those patients with confirmed COVID-19, the visitation rules will remain restricted to extenuating circumstances only, such as hospice or end of life.

For all other patients, visitors will be allowed as follows:

  • All visitors must be 18 or older, except in rare exceptions as determined by the facility.
  • All visitors must undergo symptom and temperature checks upon entering any of our facilities. Those with fever or symptoms will not be allowed in.
  • Adult Inpatient Acute Care Units: one person per patient is allowed, between noon and 8 p.m.
  • Pediatric Units: two parents or guardians are permitted at any time for minors who are patients.
  • Neonatal Intensive Care Units: two parents/support persons are permitted at any time.
  • Maternity and Labor & Delivery units: one significant other/support person is permitted. Once in the labor and delivery unit, the designated support person must have extremely limited access to the other areas of the hospital and will not be permitted to leave and reenter the unit.
  • Emergency Department: one visitor per patient is permitted at any time for adult patients. Two parents or guardians are permitted at any time where the patient is a minor.
  • Behavioral Health Adult Units: no visitors permitted until further notice.
  • Pediatric Psychiatric Patients: only one parent/guardian is permitted if/when a mutual agreement between the care team and the parents/guardian has been reached.

Visitors may not be present during procedures or in the recovery room, except for pediatrics, childbirth, and patients with an intellectual, developmental or other cognitive disability.

For patients having same-day surgery or procedures, one support person can be with the patient before and after the procedure, except for pediatrics, and patients with an intellectual, developmental, or other cognitive disability.

Outpatients may be accompanied by one adult. Visitors may wait for the patient in the hospital or facility’s designated waiting area (subject to physical space availability), while the patient is having his/her procedure.

All visitors must perform hand hygiene before visiting a patient. Once in the hospital or facility, visitors must remain in the patient’s room (or Emergency Department bay) as much as possible throughout the visit, except when directed by hospital or facility staff to leave during aerosol-generating procedure or other procedures in which visitors are usually asked to leave.

All visitors must wear a mask for visits with those who do not have COVID-19 and will be shown how to wear them.

If you are visiting a COVID-19 positive patient because of extenuating circumstances (hospice or end-of-life), the hospital staff "will direct the visitor on the appropriate PPE," officials said.

Anyone who refuses to wear a mask or other PPE will be asked to leave the facility.

"RWJBarnabas Health has developed policies and procedures to prioritize and ensure the health and safety of all patients, visitors and staff in preventing the spread of COVID-19," said Dr. John F. Bonamo, executive vice president and chief medical and quality officer of RWJBarnabas Health. "One of the most important safeguards established to achieve this goal has been restricting visitation in our facilities. However, we recognize the vital role that family members and loved ones have in the healing and well-being of our patients and with declining numbers in the state we are happy to announce that visitors will be permitted again."

In addition to revising its visitor rules, the hospital network is allowing "specialty care services," including diagnostics, screenings and elective surgery to resume.

"We recognize that patients and their families may be apprehensive about of seeking medical care at this time, but we have taken every precaution to welcome them back safely," Bonamo said. "We also know that many people have been putting off care due to the pandemic but we want them to know that it’s safe to come back and encourage them to minimize potential health risks by not putting off care any longer."

All patients admitted to any RWJBarnabas hospital will have a COVID-19 test as part of the pre-admission testing process, including scheduled elective surgeries and Emergency Department patients. Elective surgery patients will be required to self-quarantine following testing and up until the day of surgery.

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This article originally appeared on the Toms River Patch