DMV hospitals starting to allow families to visit COVID-19 patients

For millions of people, it’s been one of the hardest parts of the pandemic – not being able to comfort COVID-19 positive loved ones fighting for their lives inside a hospital. Now though, that’s beginning to change.

Download the FOX 5 DC News App for Local Breaking News and Weather

"It’s just time. Now is the safe time to bring their loved ones in to see their family," explained Meritus Health President and CEO Maulik Joshi.

He added that because of new protocols implemented this week at Meritus Medical Center in Hagerstown, patients like 72-year-old Barbara Holder of Boonsboro were able to have family by their side.

"We’re now in our country moving from it being a pandemic to an endemic," Joshi said. "The reality is COVID is going to be around for a while. It’s gonna be like the flu, and so we have to manage it somehow and we just think now is a time to increase the bonds between our patients and their loved ones."

READ MORE: Contagious delta variant is driving up COVID-19 hospitalizations in parts of US

There are plenty of precautions in place. All visits have to be coordinated with the patient’s nurse ahead of time. Visitors of COVID patients have to sign a waiver saying they understand the risks.

They also have to wear PPE, they can’t visit other parts of the hospital, can’t eat or drink near the patient and they can’t leave without guidance from bedside staff.

"If you see your loved ones in the hospital, you’re gonna have better outcomes," Joshi added. "There’s no doubt about it. You know that makes a difference in your health physically and emotionally."


Some other area hospitals are taking a similar approach. The Johns Hopkins Hospital, for instance, recently updated its guidelines and some visits are allowed.

Inova hospitals, however, only allow visitation for some end-of-life situations, according to a spokesperson.