SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – In response to a request from the State Department of Public Health to Massachusetts hospitals, Baystate Health has announced changes to its visitor policy.

According to a news release sent to 22News from Baystate Health, the Department of Public Health is asking all Massachusetts Hospitals, including Baystate Health, to urge potential visitors to defer visitation until further notice due to a national and statewide increase in COVID-19.

Effective immediately at all Baystate Hospitals:

  • Non-covid ICU patients are allowed one visitor per day regardless of age; previously ICU patients had been allowed two visitors per day.
  • Non-covid inpatients, the policy remains the same at one visitor per day.
  • Non-covid patients in the Emergency Department may still have one care partner if there is space to physical distance them.

The policy of no visitation for COVID patients, whether an inpatient or in the Emergency Department, remains in effect unless there is a confirmed exception.

For all patients in the Pediatric Emergency Department, one parent at a time may visit; previously two were allowed.

For obstetrics, patients-to-be may have one designated care partner throughout the patient’s stay; previously the policy was one care partner plus a second person post-delivery.

Surgery patients are allowed zero care partners at the time of check-in, however, one is allowed at the patient’s discharge.

No children under 18 are permitted to visit unless a designated exception is made by hospital administration. Visitors must wear a facemask at all times, and is strongly encouraged to have received a negative COVID-19 test before to entering the hospital. Visiting hours remain from noon to 8 p.m.

For those who plan to visit, the Department of Public Health recommends that visitors with any symptom or exposure within the past 5 days should not be permitted into the hospital. 

Any visitor who had a diagnosis of COVID-19 in the previous 10 days of visiting must have been diagnosed at least five days before visiting the facility,

Any visitor who has been exposed to COVID-19 in the prior 10 days to visiting must have quarantined for at least 5 days before visiting the facility and have received their booster vaccine or been fully vaccinated within the past five months with Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or two months with Janssen vaccine.

“While we are urging potential visitors to defer visitation until the cases of COVID-19 decline in the community, our caregivers understand it can be stressful when a loved one is hospitalized. If a child or other family member or friend is unavailable to visit, it can be even more difficult,”

Denise Schoen, Chief Patient Experience Officer at Baystate Health

Schoen also noted that there are ways to connect a patient instead of visiting a during the Covid-19 surge such as calling or video chatting with the patient and sending text messages or emails, including videos or photos.

With bitter cold temperatures expected once again Tuesday night, doctors are urging people to limit your time outdoors. They have seen an increase in patients with cold-related health issues.

“People need to be really aware that there is frost nip and frostbite. Later, these can lead to much worsening signs such as dizziness and confusion. People may also have shivering and this is something people really need to be thinking about,” said Dr. Sunny Shukla, Emergency Department Chief at Baystate Noble.

In terms of COVID-19 cases, Baystate Health has been breaking patient records. On Tuesday the hospital system saw 307 patients systemwide.