The Western Cape Government Health has announced adjusted rules for visitors and escorts at public health facilities.

In a statement, the department says: “We firmly believe that being visited by their loved ones is an important part of a patient’s road to recovery. It is also essential to family who are anxious about the wellbeing of their loved one and wants to visit them in hospital. We also understand that it is also reassuring for young patients or the elderly to have an escort present when visiting the emergency room or outpatients’ department.”

The amended visitation guidelines include:
  • Visitors and escorts are only allowed at health facilities under special circumstances.
  • Formal screening of visitors and escorts at entrances is not required.
  • All visitors and escorts should wear masks at all times, sanitise their hands, and maintain physical distance from other people.

Outpatients

  • One escort is only allowed for patients under 18 years old, and disabled, vulnerable, or weak patients.

Emergency Unit

  • Patients younger than 18 years – one escort allowed to accompany the patient into the emergency room.
  • End of life patients – a maximum of two family members allowed to be present at a time.
  • Disabled/vulnerable patients – one escort may be allowed depending on the situation. Will be assessed on a case-to-case basis.
  • All other patients: One escort is allowed only when EC is not crowded. Will be assessed on a case-to-case basis.

 Neonatal patients

  • Mother is encouraged to remain with the patient or regularly visit.
  • Birthing partner or one designated person can visit daily for 60 minutes. Longer visitation at discretion of ward manager.
  • More family members allowed for end of life patients, restricted to two persons at a time for 60 minutes. More people and longer time slots at the discretion of the ward manager.

Maternity & labour

  • Birthing partners should wear a surgical mask and remain at the top end of the bed at all times.
  • COVID-19 positive patients in labour – one birthing partner allowed during active labour at the discretion of the ward manager and provided there is sufficient privacy and space.
  • COVID-19 negative patients in labour – one birthing partner is allowed during active labour if sufficient space and privacy are available.

C-section

  • COVID-19 positive patients: One birthing partner is allowed to be in the operating room if they have been fully vaccinated or had COVID-19 in the past 90 days. No changing of birthing partners allowed.
  • COVID-19 negative patients: One birthing partner is allowed to be in the operating room. No changing of birthing partners.
  • The birthing partner is allowed to remain with the mother in the recovery room and accompany her to the postnatal ward where they can remain for a short while.
  • Birthing partners are not allowed in theatre but can visit mother and baby for 30 minutes in the postnatal ward.

The rules are a guideline and differ depending on the facility and the discretion of ward and hospital managers.

The Western Cape Department of Health has updated its restrictions on hospital visitations in line with adjusted Level One lockdown.

The adjusted Level One restrictions were announced at the beginning of the month. Under the adjusted restrictions, visitors and escorts are only allowed at health facilities under special circumstances and will still be screened at the entrance of the facility.

In a statement the Provincial Health Department said: “During the third wave and level 3 restrictions, Western Cape Government Health had to restrict visitation at hospitals to align with regulations and to reduce the number of people in our facilities at a time. However, we firmly believe that being visited by their loved ones is an important part of a patient’s road to recovery. It is also essential to family who are anxious about the wellbeing of their loved one and wants to visit them in hospital. We also understand that it is also reassuring for young patients or the elderly to have an escort present when visiting the emergency room or outpatients’ department.”

The amended visitation guidelines include:
  • Outpatients:
    • One escort is only allowed for paediatric, disabled, vulnerable, or weak patients.
  • Emergency Unit:
    • Paediatric patients – one escort allowed to accompany the patient into the emergency room.
    • Terminal patients – family members allowed to be present, but only one or two family members allowed to be present at a time.
    • Disabled/vulnerable patients – one escort may be allowed depending on the situation. Will be assessed on a case-to-case basis.
    • All other patients: One escort will remain in the waiting room if there is sufficient space.
  • Inpatients (adults):
    • Limited to 30 minutes visitation per visitor.
    • Visiting time slot of 60 minutes per ward per day. Confirm with the hospital what the ward’s visiting hours are before visiting.
    • Terminally ill patients are allowed to be visited by loved ones. Restricted to 30 min per person per day – more people and longer time at the discretion of ward manager.
    • Critically ill patients are allowed one designated visitor once per day.
  • Inpatients (paediatric):
    • One parent/caregiver can be with the patient.
    • Parent/caregiver can alternate with other parents/caregivers, but only one is allowed with the patient at a time.
    • More family members allowed for terminal patients for 30 minutes, one person at a time. More people and longer time slots at the discretion of the ward manager.
  • Neonatal patients:
    • Mother can remain with the patient or regularly visit.
    • Birthing partner or one designated person can visit daily for 30 minutes. Longer visitation at discretion of ward manager.
  • Maternity & labour:
    • COVID-19 positive patients in labour – no birthing partners allowed.
    • COVID-19 negative patients in labour – one birthing partner during active labour if sufficient space and privacy are available.
    • C-section: Birthing partners are not allowed in theatre but can visit mother and baby for 30 minutes in the postnatal ward.
    • Teenagers in labour: A birthing partner will be accommodated at the discretion of the ward manager.
    • Post-natal ward: Birthing partner allowed to visit mother and newborn for 30 minutes per day during visiting period.
  • COVID-19 and PUI patients:
    • No visitors are allowed.
    • Can drop off parcels (toiletries, food, books, etc.)
    • Exceptions will be made for terminally ill patients.

The Department of Health reiterated that all patients and visitors are to maintain safety precautions including wearing a mask over their mouth and nose, maintaining a physical distance and washing or sanitising their hands regularly.