Intermountain Healthcare announced that its visitation policy is going to be temporarily tightened on Tuesday in response to the spread of the omicron variant of COVID-19.
"This will help further protect caregivers, keep patients safe, and help reduce the spread of COVID-19," Intermountain said.
Under the new policy, overnight visitors will only be allowed for pediatric patients, laboring or postpartum mothers, patients with dementia and patients who are critically ill. All other visitors will only be able to stay during the visiting hours between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m.
Reducing overnight visitors, the hospital said, will avoid visitors taking their masks off while sleeping, which they are concerned can expose more health care workers to COVID-19.
"All visitors must be masked at all times, in all areas in hospitals and clinics, including private patient rooms. When feasible, patients should have their masks on in the presence of a caregiver," Intermountain said.
In addition to visitors always wearing their masks, only one visitor per day is recommended for same-day surgery patients, and two designated visitors are allowed to rotate into the room of patients in the emergency department. This policy became effective on Aug. 13, 2021.
When patients are coming for clinics or other appointments, Intermountain asks that when possible they come alone or only bring people who are necessary for the visit. This includes children, and they ask patients to make child care arrangements so they do not need to bring children to the hospital.
According to the Intermountain website, in addition to wearing a mask, visitors must be older than 12, be in good health, complete a screening which includes asking about symptoms, wash or sanitize their hands, and socially distance from others.
Visitors are encouraged to stay in the patients' room rather than staying in common spaces, and patients are encouraged to communicate electronically to feel more connected with others.