Around New England

Visitors at Hospitals and Nursing Home?  Maybe in About A Week, State Officials Say

May 31, 2020

Massachusetts state officials may announce a new policy on visitors for patients in hospitals and residents of nursing homes in about a week.

Visitors aren’t allowed currently because of the coronavirus emergency, but some have called for the state to start allowing visitors again.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker acknowledged the problem with the ban this past week.

“I mean, there’s a lot of things about this that nobody likes. And I completely get it. You know, One of them is visitors to hospitals. One of them is visits to senior care facilities. That’s one’s personal for me, and for many other people, as well,” said Baker, whose father is at a long-term care facility, during a coronavirus press conference on Tuesday, May 26.

“It’s a complicated issue, O.K.? A lot of psychological benefit in it, but big concerns about some of the issues associated with the virus,” Baker said.

State officials say they want to see how Phase One of the re-opening of public life in Massachusetts goes before committing to allowing visitors to see patients.

“As we’ve said before, ending visitation in both hospitals and long-term care were among some of the hardest decisions we need to make,” said Marylou Sudders, the state’s secretary of health and human services, during the May 26 press conference. “As a social worker I actually wanted to open visitation sooner.”

Sudders kept the timeframe vague — “We like data not dates, as you know,” she said – but she said that within a couple of weeks the state may start allowing visitors to see patients in hospitals and to see long-term-care facility residents outside.

If a couple of weeks means 14 days from May 26, then the target date would be about Tuesday, June 9.