Visitor policy updated - limits on visitor numbers remain in place

The Visitor Access During the COVID-19 Pandemic Policy has been updated to provide staff with additional clarity about when friends and relatives can visit patients including those patients in the terminal phase of their care.

Liz Murdoch, Operations Lead – COVID-19, said the policy outlines the limits that remain in place on visitor numbers.

“With some social restrictions being eased out in the community, we want reinforce that our Visitor Policy is still in place to help us ensure the safety of our staff and patients.

"Many areas are working hard to manage visitors, particularly family members who are emotional and wanting to be there to support their loved ones, and it’s crucial that the policy implemented consistently across all wards,” Liz said.

“We are continuing to screen all visitors coming to Austin Health and staff should feel comfortable that they policy is there to help manage the risks related to COVID.

“The latest changes to the policy provide additional guidance around which patients are considered to be in the terminal phase of their care and it also sets out the specific visitor rules that are in place to limit patients in high risk areas such as ED, ICU and COVID/Suspected COVID designated wards, and 7 South and 8 South in the ONJ Centre.

"We're continuing to monitor COVID-19 transmission levels in the community and will review the Visitor Policy to ensure the risks to our staff and patients are being appropriately managed.

“Staff are directed not to make exceptions to the Visitor Policy without first consulting with the relevant Nurse in charge.

"It's also a good time to remind staff about the importance of maintaining a physical distance of 1.5m between themselves and others whenever possible to further reduce the risk of transmission,” Liz said.

Key points in the Visitor Access During the COVID-19 Pandemic Policy include:

  • Visiting hours at Austin Health campuses are between 12noon - 2pm and 5pm – 7pm, seven days a week (additional restrictions are in place in ICU)
  • Patients can have a maximum of two visitors per two hour visiting period
  • All visitors must be screened at a COVID-19 Screening checkpoint upon entering any Austin Health campuses
  • The following people will not be allowed to visit Austin Health patients:
    • Visitors with COVID-19, suspected COVID-19 or displaying symptoms for COVID-19
    • Children under the age of 16
  • If staff are unable to carry out their duties whilst maintaining a safe distance, visitors may be asked to leave the room whilst care is being provided. Staff will direct where visitors can stand while waiting to return to room
  • Patients must arrive alone wherever possible (unless they require a carer) when attending Specialist Clinics, Pathology, Radiology and Day Oncology or the Emergency Department
  • Exemptions to the two-hour time limit and number of nominated visitors may apply in the following circumstances:
    • Patients under 18 years
    • Patients with a disability
    • Patients in the terminal phase

Information about limits to visitor numbers is available to the community on the Austin Health and ONJ Centre websites and reminders about the restrictions is also being shared via our social media channels.

Please click here for a full version of the Visitor Access During the COVID-19 Pandemic Policy.