The increase in the number of patients in Massachusetts hospitals is leading some to tighten their visitor policies.
Mass General Brigham updated his rules on Wednesday as the omicron variant of COVID-19 spreads and hospitalizations increase.
“We are trying to limit overcrowding in public spaces and in patient care spaces,” said Dr. Tom Sequist, Chief Medical Officer of Mass General Brigham.
All system facilities, including Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, will be reduced from two visitors to one for inpatients, effective Wednesday.
“I think it’s definitely going to make a difference in our ability to avoid this overcrowded scenario,” Sequist said. “And allow people to socially distance themselves.”
The Massachusetts Nurses Association says more needs to be done and that no visitors should be allowed at all in Massachusetts hospitals.
“Some days you go down there and it looks like there’s a general scrum at the reception with everyone coming in,” said Jim McCarthy, a nurse at Brigham and Women’s.
He says too often that visitors do not follow guidelines in the event of a pandemic.
“People aren’t wearing masks correctly, they’re not using the right protocol, the six-foot distance,” McCarthy said. “We believe there should be a moratorium on visitors to the hospital.”
A Visitor’s Rule aligns Mass General Brigham with other area hospitals like Tufts and the Boston Medical Center. But some hospitals have gone further.
Beth Israel and the South Shore Hospital do not allow visitors at all.
Mass General Brigham says he will continue to reassess.
Exceptions can be made for support visitors, and there may be different rules in different parts of a hospital, such as intensive care or labor and delivery.