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Mass. Hospitals Move To Limit Visitors To Slow Spread Of Coronavirus

Massachusetts General Hospital. (Hadley Green for WBUR)
Massachusetts General Hospital. (Hadley Green for WBUR)

Hospitals across Massachusetts are imposing strict limitations on visitation to prevent transmission of the coronavirus.

Holyoke Medical Center was the first hospital to ban visitors. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is now doing the same except in "extenuating circumstances." That might include patients at the end of life, mothers giving birth and parents visiting a baby in the NICU.

Other hospitals are still allowing visitors for now, but with limitations. All Partners hospitals are allowing just one "healthy" visitor at a time. Some Partners HealthCare facilities are going a bit further: Brigham and Women's Hospital is only allowing one daily visitor for each patient. Visitors will be screened for potential exposure, travel history and upper respiratory tract symptoms. The current policies at Boston Medical Center and UMass Memorial Medical Center are also one patient at a time. Many hospitals have cut off visits from children under age 18.

Starting Monday, Boston Children's Hospital will limit visitors to two adult caregivers at a time. Visitors under 18, including siblings, are barred from visiting. The rules apply to anyone visiting patients at the hospital, going to the emergency room or keeping appointments at any of the hospital's locations.

"We know this may cause scheduling challenges, particularly for families with younger siblings, but we can all play a role in reducing the spread of this virus," Boston Children's said in a statement. "We’re grateful for your help as we work together to safeguard all of our patients, families and staff."

As alternatives to visiting, the hospital suggested other methods for reaching out to patients, such as phone calls, video chats or sending cards.

Mass. Eye and Ear and Brigham and Women's said Sunday that health care workers — one at each hospital — tested positive for the coronavirus. Hospital officials said they were working to inform patients and staff who may have been exposed.

Martha Bebinger Twitter Reporter
Martha Bebinger covers health care and other general assignments for WBUR.

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Elisabeth Harrison Twitter Managing Editor For News Content
Elisabeth Harrison is WBUR’s managing editor for news content with a focus on business, health and science coverage.

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Derek J. Anderson is a freelancer digital producer.

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