Hospital Visitation and Access Info

Visitor Restrictions and Screening Now in Place Updated 3/29/20

Visitor access to our hospitals on all four campuses and clinics has been dramatically limited to reduce risk and enhance patient and employee safety, in response to the COVID-19 threat. 

UTMB has instituted a NO VISITORS policy at all its hospitals.

This policy applies to patient rooms, our emergency departments and all waiting areas. Exceptions are being made for:

  • a partner or spouse of someone in Labor & Delivery;
  • one parent or caregiver with a child receiving pediatric care; and
  • those visiting patients receiving end-of-life care.

Beyond these examples, visitor permission may be granted by the Patient Care Team on a case-by-case basis.

Anyone being allowed access will be screened at designated entrances. Please note that most hospital entrances will be closed; signage will direct visitors to the correct entrance. If visitors have symptoms including a fever or cough, they will be denied entry.

In all our outpatient clinics and procedure area, we are no longer allowing visitors. Exceptions will be made for:

  • 1 parent or caregiver with a child;
  • 1 required medical decision-maker with adults; or 
  • 1 caregiver for patients who are unable to walk or move about.

This policy will be in place until further notice. (Remember all patients should call the Access Center at (409) 772-2222 or (800) 917-8906 before coming to any urgent care center or clinic so the nurse hotline can determine the best location for needed care—regardless of symptoms. We will offer televisits whenever medically appropriate.)

Based on direction from Texas Health and Human Services, employees and faculty members are also being directed to specific entrances, and will be screened. Details for employees, including designated entrances and other important details, are in the Hospital Entrance Employee Screening post.  

We understand the hardship these policies place on families (and the inconvenience for our employees); it is a difficult decision at a challenging time. Thank you for your understanding and support as we work to minimize risks associated with COVID-19, and keep our patients, your loved ones, family and friends, and our healthcare team safe and healthy.


EMPLOYEES:
Get details on hospital entrance screening for staff.

RESPONDING TO COVID-19

To prevent the rapid spread of the virus & help families & communities adapt to a quickly changing situation, follow these recommendations

ConnectedSTAY CONNECTED

Keep updated on what is happening in your community, workplace, school district, faith organization, etc.

HygienePERSONAL AND HOUSEHOLD HYGIENE

Proper hand washing, not touching your face, cleaning surfaces, staying home if you are sick, etc., are all important steps to take

PlanHAVE A PLAN

  • Keep 2 weeks of food, medicines, and other essentials.
  • Collect contact information for family, friends, and co-workers.
  • Make plans for disruptions to your daily schedule. (ex: school or childcare closures)
  • Make sure you know where to go for care if a member of your household becomes sick.

SocialDistancingSOCIAL DISTANCING

Stay home if you can, avoid gatherings of 10 or more people, stay 6 feet away from other individuals and cooperate with closures in your community

Information provided by UTMB's Department of Preventive Medicine and Population Health

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COVID-19 General FAQs

FAQs

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). The novel coronavirus, now known as Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.

While COVID-19 causes only mild illness in some infected individuals, it may cause serious lower respiratory infection leading to hospitalization and even death.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers this factsheet highlighting important information you should know about Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-10).

Last modified on 3/16/2020

  • Stay home unless you need medical care
  • Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home
  • Call ahead before visiting a clinic
  • Wear a mask
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes
  • Clean your hands often
  • Avoid sharing personal household items
  • Clean all “high touch” surfaces every day
  • Monitor your symptoms

Last modified on 3/10/2020

To ensure adequate COVID-19 testing capacity for patients with medical need, UTMB Health will use the following process to determine when to test for COVID-19. This process is consistent with guidance from the local health authority and Texas Department of State Health Services.

  • Patients with symptoms of respiratory illness, including cough, fever or shortness of breath, should contact the UTMB Health Access Center at (800) 917-8906 to speak with our 24/7 nurse hotline.
  • The nurse hotline will advise the patient on what to do next, including the most appropriate clinic location for evaluation if needed. (Please note that patients with mild symptoms and no underlying risk factors may be advised to manage their symptoms at home.)
  • Once a patient arrives at the recommended location, they will be seen by a provider and likely given a flu test. (Colds and flu are still circulating widely in our region, so they first need to be ruled out as a cause of symptoms.)
  • If the flu test is positive, the patient will be treated for flu as appropriate.
  • If the flu test is negative, the provider will recommend whether a COVID-19 test is warranted, based on the most current guidance from health authorities.
  • Patients should follow provider recommendations for testing, self-isolation and management of symptoms.
  • Any patient experiencing a worsening of symptoms—particularly shortness of breath—a few days after first becoming ill should contact the Access Center IMMEDIATELY.
  • Patients who do not have symptoms of a respiratory infection will not be tested for COVID-19 at this time. This is to ensure we maintain adequate testing capacity for patients who have medical need. It also reduces the risk of a false negative result in a patient who may have been exposed to the virus but does not yet have enough virus in their system to cause symptoms and to show up on the test.

Please note: Our process and procedures may be updated as the COVID-19 situation develops in our region.

Last modified on 3/15/2020

This is one of the topics that remains under study; it's still not certain exactly how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces. According to the World Health Organization, studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days (at one point nine days was mentioned, which the latest studies suggest may be unlikely). Survival of the virus will vary under different conditions, including type of surface, temperature, humidity and moisture, exposure to sunlight, and other factors.

If you think a surface may be infected, clean it with simple disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others. Wash your hands with soap and water or clean them with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose. 

Last modified on 3/14/2020

There are no plans for UTMB to serve as a general quarantine facility in the case of an outbreak in our area. As always, we are prepared to care for patients who need hospitalization due to COVID-19 or any illness.

Last modified on 3/12/2020

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.

If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

Last modified on 3/5/2020

Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases.

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure. Common symptoms of COVID-19 are:

  • a dry cough,
  • fever of 100.4 F or higher, and
  • shortness of breath.

Any time a member of your household has a fever (whether flu, COVID-19 or another illness), they should stay home until they’ve been fever-free for 24 hours. If at any time you have concerns about any symptoms you or your family is experiencing, call your doctor.

Last modified on 3/10/2020

COVID-19 is a new disease and we are still learning how it spreads, the severity of illness it causes and to what extent it may spread in the United States.

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Last modified on 3/5/2020

  • People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest).
  • Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring with this new coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

Last modified on 3/5/2020

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

How easily a virus spreads from person-to-person can vary. Some viruses are highly contagious (spread easily), like measles, while other viruses do not spread as easily. Another factor is whether the spread is sustained, spreading continually without stopping.

The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community (“community spread”) in some affected geographic areas.

Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.

Last modified on 3/16/2020

At this time, patients testing positive for COVID-19 who have mild symptoms, are not over age 60 and do not have an underlying medical condition are advised to isolate at home. If a patient with COVID-19 is concerned, begins to experience shortness of breath, starts feeling worse a week or so into the illness, is over age 60 or has an underlying medical condition, they are strongly encouraged to call their doctor or the UTMB Access Center at (800) 917-8906 to speak with our 24/7 nurse hotline.

Last modified on 3/16/2020