Patient and Visitor FAQs
In response to the coronavirus, University of Maryland Medical System has made adjustments to many of our policies in order to safeguard the health of patients, care partners (visitors), staff and our communities.
We understand that there may be many questions surrounding these changes. Please see these frequently asked questions for information or clarification.
What are care partners?
Care partners are the family and friends who visit inpatients and may come along to outpatient visits, in some cases. Whether and how many care partners are permitted will depend on the current visitation level.
What are designated support persons?
Patients name designated support persons to be physically present to support them. A designated support person is knowledgeable about the care of the patient and may be a friend, family member, personal care assistant or disability service provider.
People with disabilities may have at least one designated support person with them at all visitation levels. People without disabilities may have a support person in some cases and visitation levels.
Can inpatients receive care partners or have a support person with them?
It depends. Our system-wide patient safety measures include a tiered system of color-coded visitation levels in order to create more flexibility in visitation as conditions allow. Under this system, visitation may be determined by current COVID-19 conditions, where the patient is receiving treatment and the COVID-19 status of the patient.
At the Yellow, Orange and Red Levels, visitation is restricted, but there are some designated exceptions, including:
- At the end of life
- For a child
- Patients in labor
- Patients with disabilities
- For religious services
For details on these exceptions, please see more information on our current visitation level.
What steps are being taken to ensure that care partners will not be at increased risk of contracting or spreading the virus?
We screen all care partners for symptoms when they enter the hospital. This may include a temperature check at some facilities. Care partners who arrive without a mask will be given one. All are required to adhere to our universal masking policy. Additionally, we are limiting the number of people who may come into the hospital as a care partner.
Can a visitor hug or be in physical contact with the patient?
Physical contact between a patient and care partner is a personal decision. We recommend that patients and care partners limit physical contact. However, good hand hygiene practices as care partners are entering and departing as well as the use of masks and other personal protection equipment, as appropriate, will minimize the risk of a hug or other brief direct physical contact.
Do care partners need to keep their masks on while in the patient's room?
For the protection of the patient, care partner and staff, we ask that both care partners and patients wear a mask throughout the visit. This is especially important in case someone is an asymptomatic carrier of the COVID-19 virus.
What special procedures are there for care partners visiting a COVID-19 patient?
Any person coming into the hospital to visit with a patient suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 must review and verbally consent to an Acknowledgement of Risk Form.
How are patients who wish to receive religious services accommodated?
Patients who are not suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 may request religious services from clergy of their choice, assuming it can be facilitated without disruption to any other patients.
Exceptions will be granted for patients suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 for religious services at the end of life. Clergy coming into the hospital for end-of-life services for patients suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 must review and consent to an Acknowledgement of Risk Form prior to entering the patient's room.
How can I communicate about or with my loved one who is in the hospital?
Our staff members are committed to ensuring that you are updated regularly on the status of your loved one.
We understand staying in touch is important. We encourage you to stay in touch directly via phone, laptops and tablets, when possible.
How long will the current patient safety measures be in effect?
Because this is a rapidly changing situation, we cannot predict how long the current guidelines will remain in place. We will maintain our current guidelines as long as necessary to protect our patients, care partners and staff.
However, our tiered system of color-coded visitation levels creates more flexibility in visitation as conditions allow. Please see more information on our current visitation level and how the tiered visiting policy works.
I've recently visited an UMMS hospital. How do I know if I've been exposed to COVID-19?
We are taking the needed and recommended steps from our local, state and national partners like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to keep our patients, visitors and staff safe.
The best thing you can do to protect yourself is to wear a mask and frequently wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Avoid touching your face and follow all the recommended virus prevention measures.
Do I need to wear a mask when inside an UMMS facility?
Yes. Our universal masking policy requires every person within a UMMS facility – staff, patients, care partners and vendors – to wear a face mask at all times, regardless of where you are in the building.
If you already have a mask, please bring yours.
Can I bring my children to appointments?
- At the Yellow, Orange and Red Levels, children under the age of 18 are not permitted to visit the hospital, emergency department or outpatient locations (unless they are the parent of a child).
- At the Yellow and Orange level, an exception may be made for patients at outpatient centers if the child is the infant of a nursing mother. Please speak with your doctor's office when scheduling your appointment if you believe that you will require an exception to this policy.
- At the Green Level, children are permitted.
See the current visitation level.
What should I do if I have cold or flu symptoms and have an appointment at an UMMS hospital?
If you are exhibiting any signs of cold or flu-like symptoms, like a cough or runny nose, you should reschedule your appointment for the health and safety of those around you. If you feel like your symptoms require an appointment, please call in advance to discuss with your doctor's office.
How can I help?
Please see our information on different ways you can help.
Is UMMS in need of volunteers?
The role of volunteers is an important part of the service and care we provide to our patients. This need is greater than ever as we face the COVID-19 pandemic together. If you are not already a volunteer, please contact your local hospital to inquire about new opportunities for volunteers at this time.
Am I able to volunteer?
Volunteers will be asked to participate in a screening process before entering the hospital. If you meet any of the following criteria, you will be temporarily prohibited from volunteering at any University of Maryland Medical System hospital during the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic and until further notice.
The following individuals may not serve as volunteers:
- Individuals with signs and symptoms of acute upper respiratory infection, those infected with COVID-19, or those for whom COVID-19 test results are pending
- Individuals who have come in contact with an individual infected with COVID-19
- Individuals 70 years or older or with immunosuppressive or other underlying conditions
- Pregnant women
- Children under the age of 18