NEWS ALERT: Hospital Visitation and COVID-19

December 9, 2020 / COVID-19

COVID-19 has changed the way that we live, the way we can receive care, and the way businesses operate. Hospitals have gone through a lot of changes during this time, including with visitation policies. Some hospitals are not allowing visitors for their patients in order to reduce the number of people in their building. Many hospitals also have rules about who can be a visitor, how long visitors can stay, how many people can visit at a time, and how often people can visit.

If you have a disability, hospitals are required to make reasonable accommodations to their visitor policy for you. This means that if you need help from a family member, service provider, or other caregiver, hospitals need to make an exception to their policy so you can get the care that you need.

You may need help with communicating your medical needs, making important medical decisions, using your own medical equipment or assistive technology, or helping you manage your anxiety of being in a strange place. If a hospital’s policy allows you to have one visitor, your support person should not count as that one person. Your support person can be any of the following:

  • A family member
  • A caregiver
  • An advocate
  • A service(s) provider
  • Anyone else you rely on for help because of your disability

Let the hospital know before you arrive that you require a support person and, by law, are allowed to have one for the length of your visit. Your support person needs to comply with reasonable hospital policies, like wearing a mask and other personal protective equipment. Hospitals should allow your support person to help you from the time you arrive at the hospital until after you are discharged. Hospitals should also allow your support person to take breaks outside of the hospital and allow them to come back in when ready, even if the hospital’s visitor policy would not otherwise allow re-entry. One thing to keep in mind is that the hospital may not let your support person enter if they have tested positive for COVID-19 or have symptoms, so having another option might be a good idea.

If a hospital won’t let you have a support person come with you, or if you have questions about your rights, you should call Disability Rights Ohio’s Intake Line at 614-466-7264 or 1-800-282-9181, press option 2, and leave a message. We want your hospital stay to be as smooth as possible and make sure that you are receiving the level of care that you are entitled to.

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