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Some hospitals across metro Tucson loosening visitor rules
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Some hospitals across metro Tucson loosening visitor rules

Under a recently updated policy, visitors at Tucson Medical Center will now be allowed to visit family members during admission, discharge and when they are in a room in the emergency department.

Tucson Medical Center, Northwest Medical Center and Oro Valley Hospital have each modified visitor policies this week and are now allowing loved ones to see those hospitalized during certain times.

It’s a shift from earlier this year when hospitals and medical centers stopped allowing visits because of concerns about the spread of COVID-19.

“When people have medical issues, they need their loved ones, especially when they first arrive, when they need emergency care and on their day of discharge,” said Judy Rich, CEO of TMC HealthCare. “Those connections are vital to healing and recovery.”

TMC, at 5301 E. Grant Road, was already allowing patio or window visits since nearly all of the hospital’s rooms are on the ground floor and have access to a patio or window. About 125 people per day have visited that way.

The modified visitor policy started this week and includes the following changes:

In the emergency department, each patient can have one visitor once the patient has been put into a room. Visitors will need to wait in the visitor tent just outside of the emergency department until the patient has a room.

On the day of admission, patients in single rooms can have one visitor for a short “tuck in” time to assist with getting oriented to the room.

On the day of discharge, one visitor can be in the patient’s room to allow clinical staff to communicate home-discharge and follow-up instructions to the patient and support person. This is limited to patients who are discharging directly to home.

The policy does not apply to COVID-19 patients or COVID-19 symptomatic patients. All visitors will be screened and must be masked before entering the building.

At Northwest Medical Center, 6200 N. La Cholla Blvd., and Oro Valley Hospital, 1551 E. Tangerine Road, the following changes are now in place:

Emergency-room patients are allowed one visitor at bedside only. Visitors will not be able to leave the patient’s room. If the patient is admitted, the visitor will be asked to leave the hospital.

Outpatient surgery patients will be allowed one visitor at discharge only. Visitors will be called when patients are nearing discharge to assist with discharge instructions.

Inpatients will be allowed one visitor on the day of discharge. Visitors will be called when patients are nearing discharge to assist with discharge instructions.

Visitation guidelines for other areas of the hospital remain as follows:

Labor and delivery and postpartum patients will be allowed one adult visitor. The visitor must remain the same throughout the entire stay.

Neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) babies will be allowed two adult visitors. Visitors must remain the same throughout the entire stay.

Pediatric patients in other areas of the hospital/clinics can have one parent or adult caregiver with them.

End-of-life patients will be allowed one visitor.

All visitors at these two facilities will have their temperature taken when they enter the hospital and will be screened for other COVID-19 symptoms.

Banner-University Medical Center Tucson, 1625 N. Campbell Ave., and Banner-University Medical Center South, 2800 E. Ajo Way, are discussing plans to change their visitation policies.

“Based on COVID-19’s prevalence within our communities, we anticipate announcing changes to our visitor restrictions policy within the next week,” said Rebecca Ruiz Hudman, the Southern Arizona media manager for Banner Health.

“We advise patients or visitors to please call ahead to learn details on visitor policies in advance of any clinic appointments or hospital visits.”

Carondelet St. Joseph’s Hospital, 350 N. Wilmot Road, and Carondelet St. Mary’s Hospital, 1601 W. St. Mary’s Road, are still limiting entry points, and anyone entering the buildings is subject to screening.

Exceptions are made for patients with disabilities who require support from family members in order for them to effectively communicate with medical personnel or otherwise receive equal access to medical treatment, said spokesman Keith Jones.

The visitation policies in place for Carondelet include the following:

In labor and delivery and postpartum areas of the hospital, patients are limited to one designated visitor, who must remain the same during the course of the patient’s stay. No one under the age of 16 is allowed.

NICU patients are allowed two visitors, who must remain the same during the course of the patient’s stay.

Contact reporter Patty Machelor at pmachelor@tucson.com or 806-7754. On Twitter: @pattymachstar

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