South Florida hospitals have been bracing for weeks to deal with the coronavirus.
Now that the virus that causes COVID-19 has become a worldwide pandemic, and the United States surpassed the 10,000-case mark, hospitals have had to change how they handle patients, visitors and even the scheduling of surgeries.
Many people have lots of questions: Are hospitals in Miami-Dade and Broward still allowing visitors? You have a surgery scheduled, is it still on? Am I going to get screened if I walk in the door?
Here’s what you need to know if you plan on visiting South Florida’s hospitals, including Baptist, Broward Health, Jackson, Memorial Healthcare, Mount Sinai and UHealth. This report will be updated as new information becomes available.
Baptist Hospital/Baptist Health South Florida
▪ No visitors allowed at West Kendall Baptist Hospital or any other Baptist hospital, as of Friday.
▪ Visiting exceptions will be made for pediatric patients, delivering mothers and special circumstances. Pediatric and maternity ward patients will be allowed one healthy visitor, age 18 or older. The visitors will be screened before being allowed to enter the hospital.
▪ Non-emergency surgeries are being rescheduled. You should contact your doctor for more information.
▪ Dining rooms are not open. Food is still available, where necessary, for grab-and-go only, according to a Baptist hospital spokesperson.
Broward Health/Broward Health System
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▪ Pediatric patients will be allowed one authorized adult (most likely a guardian) at a time to visit in 12-hour increments.
▪ Maternity patients will be allowed one visitor during labor. Afterwards, the patients will be allowed one visitor from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
▪ Hospice patient visitations will be determined on a hospital basis, according to a news release. Contact your hospital for their policy.
▪ Temperature checks and a question-based screening will be conducted to all visitors to make sure they meet visitation requirements.
▪ Clear plastic bags will be given to employees and visitors to put their phones, wallet and other belongings upon arrival to the hospital. You may also bring your own clear bag. Broward Health says the new safety measure is to “ safeguard supplies and equipment needed to ensure continuity of patient care and to protect our caregivers,” according to its website.
The hospital asks you to avoid bringing large bags or unnecessary items to the hospital.
▪ Valet service is suspended until further notice.
Jackson Memorial Hospital/Jackson Health System
Jackson escalated its procedures Saturday concerning inpatients and plans new rules concerning outpatients over the weekend, said spokeswoman Lidia Amoretti.
▪ No visitors for most of Jackson’s hospital patients. Pediatric, maternity, and inpatient rehab patients are permitted one healthy visitor, who must be at least 12 years old, and it should be the same visitor every day. If a patient has a special situation, they must speak to an administrator. The visitation policy for outpatients will be updated in the next few days.
▪ Visitors will not be permitted to bring bags of any kind into the hospitals. Outpatients are limited to one healthy guest, who will need to stay in the waiting room or lobby unless needed by the patient. If a patient has a special situation, they must speak to an administrator.
▪ Patients and visitors entering a Jackson facility will be asked screening questions and may be denied entry if they present a risk to patients, guests and healthcare workers.
▪ Visitors will have their temperature taken before entering the hospital facilities.
▪ Visitors must be at least 12 years old. Children ages 11 and younger will not be admitted except in special circumstances approved by a hospital administrator.
▪ Patients at Jackson’s physician practices, clinics and testing areas may bring one healthy guest to escort them, and that guest will be asked to stay in the waiting area.
▪ Patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 or are awaiting test results will not be allowed to have visitors. Hospital administrators can make exceptions under special circumstances.
▪ Jackson Behavioral Health Hospital patients are not allowed to have visitors, by order of Gov. Ron DeSantis. “Parents may continue visiting their children in the facility, and other exceptions can be requested to hospital administration for special circumstances.,” said Amoretti.
▪ Lobbies and cafeterias remain open. But all visitors are asked screening questions upon entry and may be asked to leave if they present a risk to our patients, guests, and healthcare workers.
Jackson cafeterias no longer offer self-serve options. All salads and sandwiches are pre-packaged and all hot food is served by cafeteria staff. “We are encouraging social distancing among our employees and visitor through regular internal messaging and signage,” said Amoretti.
▪ Maternity ward patients may have one healthy visitor stay at all times. The maternity unit strongly encourages the same visitor every day. “All of Jackson’s maternity hospitals are baby-friendly designated, which means all well babies are placed in the room with their mother. Babies in the neonatal intensive care unit may have one visitor stay at all times. We encourage the same visitor every day,” Amoretti said.
▪ Check with your doctors to see if elective surgeries are still scheduled at Jackson. All emergent and urgent surgeries, procedures, and clinic appointments are continuing as scheduled. For all other patient encounters, physicians have discretion over whether to cancel or proceed.
▪ Valet parking has been temporarily suspended at the main entrance to Jackson Memorial Hospital and the Emergency Department entrance for Jackson Memorial and Holtz Children’s Hospital for safety and health reasons, according to the hospital’s website, which has more information.
▪ No visitors allowed at any Memorial hospital location, including Memorial Hospital West in Pembroke Pines.
▪ Visitation Exceptions will be made for the spouse or partner of a delivering mother. Pediatric patients are allowed to have one guardian with them.
▪ Elective surgeries are “restricted” at all Memorial hospitals. Check with your doctor to see if the surgery is still scheduled or postponed.
▪ Valet parking is temporarily suspended at all Memorial hospitals except at the Medical Office buildings for each location.
▪ NO COVID-19 testing is being done at Memorial Hospital West or any other hospital in the Memorial Healthcare System.
Mount Sinai Medical Center
The hospital, like most, has become stricter with visiting policies and is updating its procedures regularly to keep pace with all the advisories and government orders.
▪ Mount Sinai is allowing one visitor per patient per day between the hours of 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. All visitors will be screened. The hospital is discouraging overnight guests but, according to the website, “exceptions can be granted by care staff.” Check the hospital’s website for the most up-to-date policy prior to visiting a loved one.
▪ Lobbies are open at the present moment to visitors that have undergone screenings. The cafeteria is open, with limited seating to promote social distancing and is encouraging takeout.
▪ You’re having a baby? One person is allowed to accompany each patient during labor and delivery. Postpartum patients are allowed one visitor per day but leave big brothers and sisters at home if they are underage. No children will be allowed as visitors. No visitors will be permitted in the newborn intensive care unit except for the parents.
▪ Should people avoid undergoing surgeries that are not life-threatening at this time?
Yes. In line with Centers for Medicare & Medicaid recommendations, and similar to hospitals around the country, Mount Sinai encourages patients to delay elective procedures.
UHealth/University of Miami Health System
UHealth was limiting the number of visitors entering the hospital and clinics and changing visitor guidelines, according to Joanna Palmer, director of medical communications for the University of Miami. But the situation evolves rapidly.
▪ For inpatients and outpatients: Starting at 9 p.m. Friday, March 20, UHealth will implement a no-visitor policy for all inpatient and outpatient locations. There will be exceptions for pediatric and hospice patients.
▪ All guests will be greeted and asked screening questions when they arrive at the pediatric and hospice areas.
▪ Valet parking service has been discontinued at all UHealth facilities. Patients and visitors can still be dropped off at valet parking entrances, but drivers will be directed to self-park at the nearest parking lot or garage. Valet staff will be deployed elsewhere as needed, Palmer said..
In addition, Palmer says UHealth has added other modifications and procedural changes, including:
▪ The installation of a tent outside the UHealth Tower Emergency Department to screen and isolate patients as needed.
▪ Signage has been placed at all entry points of UHealth Tower.
▪ ” We have developed isolation protocols and identified dedicated isolation space to protect our patients and staff as needed.”
▪ Appointment reminders that are routinely sent to patients via phone, text and email now remind them to call ahead if they are experiencing symptoms of the coronavirus before arriving for their appointment. “We can triage them appropriately,” Palmer said.
▪ Only necessary surgeries are scheduled at this time.
▪ UHealth is expanding the use of TeleHealth options for patient visits. This online service was designed to offer live interactive and asynchronous teleconsultations from UM physicians in multiple specialties.