SALT LAKE CITY – A decrease in Utah community COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations led Intermountain Healthcare to relax some guidelines for visitors to its Utah hospitals and clinics, effective Friday, March 18.
“We’re proceeding with caution. Even in a period of lower COVID transmission, there is still risk of transmission of COVID to our vulnerable patients in our facilities. Visitors still need to follow some precautions to keep our patients safe,” said Eddie Stenehjem, MD, Intermountain Healthcare infectious diseases physician.
For non-COVID patients, the number of visitors at the bedside will be determined by the local unit care team and per the patient’s request for regular medical and surgical units, labor and delivery, mom and baby, and emergency rooms. In mom and baby units, only siblings five years and older can visit. Overnight visitors are allowed at Intermountain hospitals, at the discretion of the local care unit.
Some units and clinics, including those at Primary Children’s Hospital, may have more restrictive visitor policies based on limitations of the type of unit, room size, or presence of vulnerable patients, such as intensive care units, pediatric specialty care units, and behavioral health units.
For hospital patients who are COVID-19 positive or suspected of having COVID-19, one designated visitor is allowed at a time and only two per day for adult patients.
Visitors of COVID-positive patients will be asked to wear personal protective equipment provided by the facility. Staff will assist with how to use it properly to ensure safety. For COVID pediatric patients, two designated visitors are allowed per day.
Visitors will need to wear masks in common areas of hospitals, such as entrances, lobbies, hallways, or areas where they may encounter other visitors, patients, or caregivers. Masks may be taken off inpatient rooms when caregivers are not present. In cafeterias in facilities, masks are required when not eating.
Under the updated guidelines, Intermountain hospitals and clinics visitors may not enter a facility if they or someone in their home has symptoms of an active infectious disease such as COVID-19, norovirus, influenza, or a positive viral test for COVID-19 or close contact with someone with COVID-19. Visitors with recent illness or exposure will not be permitted until five days after symptoms or exposure occur.
There are special guidelines for neonatal intensive care units. Children under five years old are not permitted. Siblings ages 5-12 may visit if they are up to date on all recommended childhood vaccines, including COVID. The maximum number of visitors allowed at one time at the bedside is two. Clergy do not count toward the maximum.
For adult behavioral health units, visiting can occur for two hours in the evening at the discretion of the local unit. Two visitors per patient are allowed. No overnight visitors are allowed. Behavioral health patients who are COVID-positive and asymptomatic will need to isolate in their room.
For patients at Intermountain clinics and InstaCare locations, there are no restrictions on the number of visitors. All visitors, including children aged two and older, must wear a mask in patient care areas.
If community COVID transmission rates increase, visitor guidelines may need to be adjusted accordingly. And if community COVID transmission rates decrease further, visitor guidelines will return to normal operations when criteria set by the CDC and Utah Department of Health define the level of COVID transmission that would trigger normal operations.
The most current visitor guidelines at Intermountain facilities will be updated here.