Amended Hospital Visitation Guidelines

During the fourth wave, Western Cape Government Health had to restrict visitation at hospitals to align with regulations and to reduce the number of people in our facilities at a time. However, we firmly believe that being visited by their loved ones is an important part of a patient’s road to recovery. It is also essential to family who are anxious about the wellbeing of their loved one and wants to visit them in hospital. We also understand that it is also reassuring for young patients or the elderly to have an escort present when visiting the emergency room or outpatients’ department.

The COVID-19 epidemic has ushered in many changes, one of which is the need to avoid crowding and maintain a safe physical distance between people, to prevent infecting others with the coronavirus. Health facilities are of necessity places where there are congregations of people accessing care, and even with a decline in COVID-19 infections and a change to adjusted lockdown level 1, we need to remain vigilant around avoiding congestion and maintaining a safe physical distance between people

In line with the Western Cape having exited the fourth wave, Western Cape Government Health has recently adjusted its visitation guidelines accordingly to allow visitation at hospitals under strict safety precautions. We believe this will bring some relief to both patients and family members in the recovery process and the support offered respectively. 

 

The amended visitation guidelines include:

  • Visitors and escorts are only allowed at health facilities under special circumstances.
  • Formal screening of visitors and escorts at entrances is not required.
  • All visitors and escorts should wear masks at all times, sanitise their hands, and maintain physical distance from other people.
  • Outpatients:
    • One escort is only allowed for patients under 18 years old, and disabled, vulnerable, or weak patients.
  • Emergency Unit:
    • Patients younger than 18 years – one escort allowed to accompany patient into emergency room.
    • End of life patients – a maximum of two family members allowed to be present at a time.
    • Disabled/vulnerable patients – one escort may be allowed depending on situation. Will be assessed on a case-to-case basis.
    • All other patients: One escort is allowed only when EC is not crowded. Will be assessed on a case-to-case basis.
  • Inpatients (adults):
    • Visitors to a ward must report to the nursing station, wash or sanitise their hands, not touch the bed or any surfaces, and avoid hugging, kissing and holding hands with the patient.
    • Visiting time slot of 60 minutes per day. Confirm with hospital what the ward’s visiting hours are before visiting.
    • End of life patients allowed to be visited by loved ones. More people and longer time at discretion of ward manager.
  • Inpatients (paediatric):
    • One parent/caregiver can be with the patient.
    • Parent/caregiver can alternate with other parent/caregiver, but only one allowed with patient at a time.
    • More family members allowed for end of life patients, restricted to two persons at a time for 60 minutes. More people and longer time slots at discretion of ward manager.
  • Neonatal patients:
    • Mother is encouraged to remain with patient or regularly visit.
    • Birthing partner or one designated person can visit daily for 60 minutes. Longer visitation at discretion of ward manager.
    • More family members allowed for end of life patients, restricted to two persons at a time for 60 minutes. More people and longer time slots at discretion of ward manager.
  • Maternity & labour:
    • Birthing partners should wear a surgical mask and remain at the top end of the bed at all times.
    • COVID-19 positive patients in labour – one birthing partner allowed during active labour at the discretion of the ward manager and provided there is sufficient privacy and space.
    • COVID-19 negative patients in labour – one birthing partner is allowed during active labour if sufficient space and privacy is available.
    • C-section:

§  COVID-19 positive patients: One birthing partner is allowed to be in the operating room if they have been fully vaccinated or had COVID-19 in the past 90 days. No changing of birthing partners allowed.

§  COVID-19 negative patients: One birthing partner is allowed to be in the operating room. No changing of birthing partners.

§  The birthing partner is allowed to remain with the mother in the recovery room and accompany her to the postnatal ward where they can remain for a short while.

Birthing partners not allowed in theatre but can visit mother and baby for 30 minutes in postnatal ward.

    • Teenagers in labour: A birthing partner will be accommodated at the discretion of the ward manager.
    • Postnatal ward: Two people are allowed to visit with the mother and the newborn for 60 minutes daily during the visiting hour for the postnatal ward.
  • COVID-19 and PUI patients:
    • No visitors allowed.
    • Can drop off parcels (toiletries, food, books, etc.)
    • Exceptions will be made for end of life patients at the discretion of the ward manager.

·       Adult patients in non-COVID-19 general wards:

o   Two people are allowed to visit once per day for 60 minutes during the designated visiting hour.

o   Patients who have had a death, serious illness/injury, or major event in their family (if the patient is mentally alert) are allowed extra visitors at the discretion of the ward manager.

o   End of life patients are allowed to have extra visitors at the discretion of the ward manager.

·       Adult patients in non-COVID-19 High Care, ICU, and Isolation Wards:

o   No visits allowed as these are high-risk patients.

o   Parcels (toiletries, food, books, etc.) can be dropped off.

o   End of life patients are allowed to be visited by a few loved ones. Visits restricted to one person at a time for 30 minutes once per day. More people and longer visitation at the discretion of the ward manager.

·       Psychiatric and Rehabilitation patients in non-COVID-19 Acute Care and Long Stay wards:

o   Two people are allowed to visit once per day for 60 minutes during the designated visiting hour. Number of ward visitors to be managed at the discretion of the ward manager as space is limited.

o   Patients who have had a death, serious illness/injury, or major event in their family (if the patient is mentally alert) are allowed extra visitors at the discretion of the ward manager.

o   End of life patients are allowed to have extra visitors at the discretion of the ward manager.

 

With the COVID-19 virus still present we must remain vigilant to avoid congestion and to maintain a safe physical distance between people. These guidelines will be assessed and implemented according to each facility’s current situation and capacity. They are also dependent on where we find ourselves during the pandemic keeping the best interest and safety of both staff and patients' top priority. Therefore, we have already adopted virtual communication as a means when someone cannot be visited to connect with family members in the future. Please call the relevant facility before visiting to ask about their visitation guidelines.

All patients and visitors to maintain the following safety precautions: wear a mask over your mouth and nose, maintain a physical distance, ensure good ventilation, and wash or sanitise hands often.