U.Va. Health announced Friday that there will be masking and visitation policies will be more relaxed beginning April 18. The areas in which face masks are optional will be expanded to include administrative and outpatient centers, and University Medical Center visitation policies will return to those in place before the pandemic.
Visitors will now be unrestricted by COVID-19 policies in terms of visit time and length. Adult patients will be allowed one overnight visitor and pediatric patients may have two overnight visitors. Dr. Wendy Horton, chief executive officer of the University Medical Center, said she is excited to see this change in visitation policy.
“We know that as you're in the hospital and healing, having our loved ones bedside is really important for that healing process,” Horton said. “And so we're excited today that we can take one more step back to normal.”
While masks will remain required in the main spaces of the University Hospital and clinical care units, the administrative and research buildings, ambulatory clinics and outpatient surgery centers will adopt a mask-optional policy. The majority of the West Complex, which holds research laboratories and clinical spaces, will also adopt the new policy. Masking will be optional at U.Va. Health Culpeper Medical Center as well except in cancer, dialysis and infusion centers and in the neonatal intensive care units.
Eric Swensen, public information officer for U.Va. Health Newsroom, said that this announcement stems from a steady decline in the number of COVID-19 cases and COVID-19 test positivity rate in recent months. Swensen said there are currently 11 patients with COVID-19 at the University Medical Center.
Masking will remain required in most areas of the University Hospital for the foreseeable future. Horton said this policy is to continue to protect vulnerable patient populations, including those that are immunocompromised or need special precautions.
“As academic medical centers, it has been really important to make sure that these patient populations are really protected and that we look at our trends locally where COVID-19 is heading and also national guidance,” Horton said.