COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Due to the increase of COVID-19 cases, hospitals in central Ohio have announced a return to a no-visitor policy.
The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, OhioHealth and Mount Carmel Health System announced they will temporarily stop allowing inpatient and emergency department visitors inside any of their hospitals in Columbus, starting Wednesday.
There will be a few exceptions to the policy including:
- Patients with impairments
- Patients who are minors
“Any visitors must wear a hospital-approved mask at all times, including while in patient rooms, sanitize their hands frequently and remain with the patient or in the designated waiting area. Masks are available at entry. Visitors must be free from COVID-19 symptoms (fever, dry cough, shortness of breath) or recent exposures,” a statement from the hospitals reads.
“Limited visitation policies do make a significant negative impact on the patient experience,” said Dr. Joseph Gastaldo, an infectious disease expert with OhioHealth. “So I am very sensitive to the emotional turmoil that patients do experience and, again, it’s not an easy decision to make, but we have to prioritize patient safety.”
Back in March, the hospitals put a policy like this in place. A few months later, they eased some of those restrictions.
Now, they said as COVID-19 cases are higher than they’ve ever been, the policy is back for the safety of the hospital patients and staff.
“Basically, we are going back to the same visitation policy that we had this spring,” Gastaldo said.
The hospitals said the move is being made due to the increase in reported cases.
“The numbers we have as far as our positivity are clearly far worse than what they were in the spring, and being in alignment with the further alterations that are out there by Gov. DeWine, it makes sense to do as much as we can to protect patients and associates in the hospital from COVID-19,” Gastaldo said.
OhioHealth has not recorded a case where a visitor has given the virus to a patient or staff member, according to Gastaldo.
“That has not happened,” he said. “However, there is that concern as more people come into the hospital.”
It is unclear how long the no visitor policy will be in place.
“Really what will determine when the restriction policy becomes less restrictive is that curve improving,” Gastaldo said. “And again, we don’t know when that’s going to happen, but looking forward, I really don’t see our positivity rate changing until we get past the winter holidays.”
For more information on each hospital’s policy visit: