Amid growing Coronavirus cases in Mass., 41 and counting since Monday, hospitals in the greater Boston area brace for the virus’ spread.
Many have been adjusting their policies, conducting additional visitor screenings, and limiting the number of people allowed to visit.
Here’s a rundown of how hospitals have temporarily changed their policies and how they’re preparing to treat COVID-19.
Massachusetts General Hospital
Mass General at 55 Fruit St. is now screening all visitors, including patients, business associates, vendors and any other non-employee stopping by the facility.
Anyone who has returned from visiting one of the countries with widespread local transmission of the novel coronavirus “are kindly asked to defer their visits to the facility for 14 days from arrival,” officials wrote on their website.
The hospital has yet to limit the number of visitors a patient can receive, but people experiencing upper respiratory tract symptoms, a fever, sore throat, or a cough are not allowed to visit a patient or do business in the hospital, regardless of their travel history.
While asking people not to come in, officials said Mass General’s virtual health care team has been working to develop new tele-health options for patients.
“We hope to have a suite of resources available to help with the response in the coming days and weeks,” officials there said.
NBC News reported that the hospital is waiting to broach its warehouse filled with hundreds of boxes labeled “pandemic product,” containing emergency equipment like IV fluid, medical gloves and protective gowns.
“We are trying to hold out as long as we can to tap into that warehouse, because we think there’s a chance we will see sustained transmission in the community,” Dr. Paul Biddinger, chief of the division of emergency preparedness at Mass General, told the station.
Resources at the hospital, like N95 respirators and protective masks that filter out airborne particles, are already in short supply, according to NBC’s report.
Boston Medical Center
Any patients at risk for the novel coronavirus will be put in a private room, BMC officials said. Masks will also be provided for both the patient and care team. BMC has yet to limit the number of visitors a patient can receive.
“Staff has undergone training for possible cases of COVID-19, and BMC regularly conducts staff drills and training for infectious diseases,” the hospital wrote on its site.
Tufts Medical Center
As of Monday, the hospital at 800 Washington St. sent an alert saying it will be limiting patients to two visitors and are asking anyone who’s sick not to visit.
Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Hoping to be proactive, Brigham and Women’s Hospital at 75 Francis St. will be updating its emergency department and ambulatory screening protocols to quickly detect patients with possible COVID-19.
This goes hand-in-hand with an update in the facility’s screening tools and ability to flag patients who may have the virus.
Officials are also reportedly conducting drills and planning for an influx of COVID-19 patients, according to their site.
The hospital told Channel 7 News that they have set up special coronavirus testing tents outside to examine individuals who have either been exposed to someone with the coronavirus or who meet specific CDC criteria, according to the hospital.
Those primary caregivers must be over the age of 18 and free of fevers, coughing, sore throat, sneezing, vomiting, or diarrhea for at least 48 hours prior their visit.
They must also wash their hands frequently, wear a mask or other protective equipment if asked to do so during their visit, and head directly home after leaving the patient instead of stopping at other public areas.
Anyone under 18 is not allowed to visit the hospital at all, officials said.
Kim Dever, vice president of medical affairs, reminded everyone in a video released on Thursday that the restrictions are only temporary.
“Given the nature of the season of infectious diseases, we have decided that it is time to put some temporary restrictions on the visitors that are coming into our organizations,” Dever said. “We do encourage you to talk to your health care team or your health care provider around this, but our main focus is always the health, wellness, and safety of our patients, our staff, and our visitors.”
The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
The clinic at 450 Brookline Ave. will be officially screening patients with multiple questions before, after, and during their visits.
All adult patients coming in for appointments are now allowed one other adult family member or caregiver, but similar to South Shore, no one under the age of 18 can accompany a patient.
“We understand that this change may be disruptive,” officials wrote in their updated policies. “However, limiting visitors is one way to reduce the risk of infection to cancer patients from the general population.”
For more information on the new coronavirus, head to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s website.
As of now, there’s been no indication how long these changes and restrictions will last.