UW Medicine hospitals suspend patient visits during coronavirus threat

VIDEO: UW Medicine hospitals suspend patient visits during coronavirus threat

SEATTLE — If you have a friend or family member at a UW Medicine hospital, you may no longer be able to pay them a visit.

Routine patient visits have been suspended at all UW Medicine hospitals starting Wednesday, including UW Medical Center’s Montlake and Northwest campuses, Harborview Medical Center and Valley Medical Center.

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The new policy will be in place until the spread of coronavirus, or COVID-19, “is no longer perceived as a threat to patients, staff and community.”

UW Medicine said it is taking the extra precaution to protect patients.

"The number one reason is many of our patients are already immunocompromised -- they're already fighting a disease. That's why they're in the hospital,” said Lisa Brandenburg, president of UW Medicine hospitals and clinics.

There are exceptions to the policy. In those cases, all visitors will be screened, and anyone showing signs of a respiratory infection such as fever, runny nose, cough and shortness of breath will not be admitted.

In addition, children under 16 won’t be allowed unless there are extraordinary circumstances.

Exceptions include:

  • Obstetric patients may have one partner and one birth support person accompany them.
  • Nursery and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) patients may have one birth parent plus one significant other who must remain in the room for the duration of the visit.
  • Patients who are at the end-of-life may have two visitors.
  • Patients with disruptive behavior, in which a family member is key to their care, may have one visitor.
  • Patients who have altered mental status or developmental delays (where caregiver provides safety) may have one visitor.
  • Minors under age 18 may have one visitor, parent, or guardian.
  • Patients undergoing surgery or procedures may have 1 visitor who must leave the hospital as soon as possible after the procedure/surgery.
  • Patients who have an appointment at a UW Medicine hospital-based clinic, laboratory, or radiology, as well as those visiting the Emergency Department, may have one person with them.
  • Patients who are receiving lodging services as part of their medical treatment plan are excluded from the visitor restriction policy.
  • No visitors will be allowed for patients who have a pending or positive COVID-19 test. Visitors allowed must stay in the patient’s room the entire time of the visit. Once the visitor leaves the patient room, they must leave the medical center.