Michigan hospitals reopen to visitors after coronavirus, but rules vary

Loved ones can once again accompany people at doctor's appointments and visit at area hospitals, but there are new rules in place. (Shutterstock photo)

Just because Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced last week that hospitals, outpatient clinics and doctor's offices could once again allow loved ones to visit patients or accompany them to appointments and procedures doesn't mean things are back to the way they were before the coronavirus pandemic struck.

Health systems, clinics and doctor's offices each have their own policies rules and limitations.

It's also important to know that visitors still aren't allowed at nursing homes or long-term care facilities, which have been hard hit in the pandemic and account for as many as one-quarter of the COVID-19 cases statewide.  

The Free Press surveyed several metro Detroit health systems to get details about their visitor rules in the wake of Whitmer's announcement. 

Here's what's allowed and what's not:

Stories from the front

Bridge Magazine, Detroit Free Press and Michigan Radio are teaming up to report on Michigan hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic. We will be sharing accounts of the challenges doctors, nurses and other hospital personnel face as they work to treat patients and save lives. If you work in a Michigan hospital, we would love to hear from you. You can contact reporters Robin Erb rerb@bridgemi.com at Bridge, Kristen Jordan Shamus kshamus@freepress.com at the Free Press and Kate Wells katwells@umich.edu at Michigan Radio.

Ascension Michigan 

A Catholic health care system that operates 15 Michigan hospitals, including Ascension St. John Hospital in Detroit, Providence hospitals in Rochester, Novi and Southfield, Ascension Macomb-Oakland locations in Warren and Madison Heights, and Ascension Genysys Hospital in Grand Blanc. It also operates hospitals in Kalamazoo, Dowagiac, Plainwell, East China Township, Tawas City, Saginaw and Standish as well as the Ascension Brighton Center for Recovery. 

What's allowed: One visitor is allowed per patient as long as the patient does not have coronavirus and is not suspected of having COVID-19. Visiting hours vary. Call ahead to be certain of the times visitors are allowed.  

What's not allowed: Patients who have COVID-19 or are suspected of having the virus cannot have visitors. 

Rules: All visitors must be screened before entering. Anyone with a temperature of 99.5 degrees or higher will not be allowed to visit. 

All visitors must wear face masks, including in patient rooms, and must adhere to social distancing guidelines. Visitors must remain in the patient's room and clean their hands each time they enter or leave a patient-care area.

The health system recommends that visitors are at least 18 years old and are not in a high-risk health category such as older adults and those with underlying medical conditions.

Beaumont Health 

Nonprofit health care system that operates eight hospitals in Dearborn, Trenton, Wayne, Royal Oak, Troy, Farmington Hills, Grosse Pointe, and Taylor. 

What's allowed: For patients who do not have coronavirus and are not suspected of having coronavirus, one visitor is allowed per day between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

In some cases, visitors will be allowed to stay longer than 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Such exceptions may be made for:

  • A patient in serious or critical condition, hospice care, or in the emergency department if COVID-19 is not suspected.
  • A patient at the end-of-life may have two visitors.
  • Laboring women or pregnant women who are to be induced may have a birth partner and doula.
  • Children who are 21 years of age or under may have two parents or legal guardians
  • Patients with a physical, developmental, behavioral, or cognitive impairment who require help with care, activities of daily living and/or communication
  • A patient undergoing surgery or a procedure

What's not allowed: Patients who have COVID-19 or are suspected of having the virus may not have visitors except in these circumstances: 

  • A patient at the end-of-life may have up to two visitors
  • A patient who has been in the hospital for many days where the benefit of a family member or friend's presence outweighs risk of virus exposure
  • Pregnant women in labor, pre-term labor, or requiring a C-section, pre-natal testing, procedure or genetic counseling
  • Children ages 21 or younger
  • A patient being admitted, having surgery or triaged in emergency department, but only until that person is settled in with a staff member
  • Patient being discharged who needs a support person to learn how to care for them at home

Rules: All visitors will be asked to answer health questions and have their temperature taken before entering. Anyone with a temperature of 100 degrees or higher will not be admitted. 

All visitors must wear a face mask at all times, practice social distancing, and stay in the patient’s room or staff-designated wait space at all times except for quick trips to the bathroom or to purchase food. They must also clean their hands each time they enter or leave a patient-care area.  

Details: https://bit.ly/2AS2pc4

Detroit Medical Center 

The Wayne State University medical school campus is located right next to the Detroit Medical Center campus in midtown Detroit, photographed on Friday, June 14, 2019.

A for-profit Detroit-based health care system that includes Children's Hospital of Michigan, Detroit Receiving Hospital, Harper University Hospital, DMC Heart Hospital, Hutzel Women's Hospital, Sinai-Grace Hospital, and the Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan in Detroit as well as Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital in Commerce Township.

What's allowed: Hospitalized patients who do not have COVID-19 are allowed one visitor at a time. Visitors who come with patients for procedural care, emergency department treatment, and DMC clinics will wait in a designated a COVID SAFE area.

For patients coming to the hospital with coronavirus symptoms or who are suspected of having the virus, a COVID CARE zone has been established to keep them separate from patients who do not have symptoms.  

More: Visitors allowed again at Michigan hospitals, but with some restrictions

More: Poll: Michiganders fear second wave of coronavirus, support Gov. Whitmer's orders

What's not allowed: Hospitalized patients ages 19 and older who have COVID-19 or have coronavirus symptoms are not allowed visitors. 

Rules: All visitors must be at least 18 years old.

Visitors will be asked health screening questions and have their temperature taken before they are allowed entry. They are required to wear a face mask, and are asked to sanitize their hands as well as adhere to social distancing guidelines. 

Henry Ford Health System

The nonprofit health care system operates six hospitals, with locations in Wyandotte, Detroit, West Bloomfield, Clinton Township, Ferndale and Jackson

What's allowed: Hospitalized patients who do not have coronavirus will be allowed one visitor during select hours, which may vary by hospital.   

What's not allowed: For patients who test positive for COVID-19, visits will not be allowed except in extenuating circumstances, such as end of life. 

Rules: ​All patients and visitors who are able to medically tolerate a mask or homemade face covering such as scarf, bandanna, cloth mask or handkerchief, must wear one over the nose and mouth. ​A surgical or procedural mask will be provided to patients and visitors who do not have one.

​Visitors must pass the COVID-19 health screening, including a temperature check, at the door.

​Patients who refuse to wear a mask will still be permitted to enter. They will be given tissues to cover coughs or sneezes, and educated on hand hygiene and social distancing while in the facility.

McLaren Health Care

McLaren Oakland Hospital at 50 N. Perry St. in Pontiac.

The Grand Blanc-based nonprofit health care system includes 14 hospitals with sites in Bay City, Caro, Flint, Mt. Pleasant, Mt. Clemens, Lapeer, Lansing, Port Huron, Petoskey, Pontiac and Bad Axe. It also owns the Karmanos Cancer Center in Detroit and an orthopedic hospital in Lansing. 

What's allowed: For hospitalized patients in critical care who do not have coronavirus, one visitor per day is allowed. In addition:

  • Two visitors per day are allowed in the labor and delivery unit.  
  • For children who are 16 or younger and hospitalized, two parents or guardians may visit. 
  • For patients at the end life or who are in hospice care, visitors are limited to no more than 2 at a time.
  • Elderly patients in the emergency department who are confused may have a loved one accompany them.
  • Patients receiving critical diagnoses may have one person accompany them, as can any patient being discharged who needs support with the discharge instructions and/or inpatient rehab units who would benefit from family member being present for treatment.

For outpatient clinic visits and procedures, one visitor can accompany a patient needing assistance. Procedural visitors are encouraged to wait in socially distant areas and not congregate in the waiting rooms.

What's not allowed: Patients with COVID-19 are not allowed visitors. 

No visitors are allowed in cancer infusion locations because of the risk coronavirus poses to immunocompromised patients.

Rules: All visitors will be screened for fever and respiratory symptoms. They are required to bring and wear their own face mask, which must be worn for the duration of the visit. Anyone who does not have a face mask will be given a mask.

Visitors must be 18 years or older and be immediate family (or powers of attorney, guardians, or patient representative) and must always remain in the patient’s room.

Family members or friends of any approved visitors will not be permitted to enter the hospital or wait in lobbies or common areas. 

Michigan Medicine

The nonprofit health system includes the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor, and MidMichigan Health with hospitals in Midland, Alpena, Alma, Clare, Gladwin and Mt. Pleasant. It also operates multiple specialty centers and clinics and is affiliated with the University of Michigan. 

What's allowed: For hospitalized adult patients who do not have COVID-19, one visitor per day is allowed during visiting hours of 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Exceptions include:

  • Patients with developmental delays, who may have one visitor around the clock
  • Up to six designated visitors may visit a patient at the end of life, with a maximum of two people at a time
  • For patients being discharged, up to three visitors who require home caregiver training may visit the hospital   
  • Up to two support people may accompany a patient in the labor and delivery or postpartum unit

Two adult primary caregivers can accompany children without COVID-19 who are hospitalized, are undergoing outpatient procedures or surgeries, or have appointments at outpatient clinics.

For adults who do not have coronavirus and are undergoing surgery, other procedures or who have appointments at outpatient clinics, one visitor is allowed. 

What's not allowed: No visitors are allowed for adult patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 or are being evaluated for COVID-19. The following exceptions apply:

  • At the end-of-life for a COVID-19 patient, two designated visitors are allowed.
  • For a patient who is delivering a baby and has tested positive for or is being evaluated for COVID-19, only one support person is allowed and must remain in the patient’s room.
  • For pediatric patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 or are being evaluated for COVID-19, only one adult primary caregiver may accompany the patient, and must remain in the patient’s room for the duration of the patient’s admission.

Siblings and extended family are not permitted in hospitals. No visitors are allowed to wait in the emergency services waiting room or other locations in the hospital once the patient is taken back to a room.

Rules: All visitors must undergo health screenings. No visitor who has any symptoms of illness will be allowed to visit. 

Face coverings are required in hospitals and health centers for anyone over the age of 2 who is medically able to wear one. Any visitor who does not bring a mask will be provided one. 

VIsitors must be at least 16 years old. 

To support social distancing, visitors may be asked to wait in alternative waiting areas. In many cases, visitors are also able to wait outdoors or offsite during a procedure.

Details: https://bit.ly/2MFXRZ6

St. Joseph Mercy Health System

Part of the Catholic Trinity Health System, it operates five hospitals: St. Mary Mercy in Livonia, as well as St. Joseph Mercy hospitals in Howell, Pontiac, Chelsea, and Ypsilanti; in addition to health centers in Canton and Brighton.

What's allowed: For hospitalized patients who do not have COVID-19, one visitor per patient per day is allowed. 

Two visitors are allowed per day for patients who do not have coronavirus and are minors or are in the birth center. 

What's not allowed: No visitors are permitted for COVID-19 patients unless there are extenuating circumstances.

No visitors are allowed in outpatient settings, or for patients of the health system's medical groups and cancer treatment areas, with exceptions under certain circumstances.

The rules:  Visitors may enter only at designated entrances, and all visitors will be assessed for symptoms of COVID-19 before entry. 

Masks or other cloth face coverings are required for the duration of their visit.

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