BHB updates COVID guidelines

Monday 5 December 2022: Following the end of the public health emergency laws, BHB updated its COVID-19 guidance for patients and visitors from 1 December. BHB has also returned to alert level 1 (the lowest level), for the first time since 2020.

Chief of Staff Dr Wesley Miller comments: “Although public health emergency laws ended on 30 November, COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases, such as flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), are still dangerous, especially to vulnerable people who are older, immunocompromised or unwell.

“The winter months have long been challenging for BHB, even prior to the pandemic, with increased emergency visits and admissions. This means, while we have returned to alert level 1, we remain cautious. We are, for example, maintaining precautions for staff during patient interactions, so people will find that BHB staff are masked when they have their treatments or tests, or if someone enters their inpatient room.

“There is certainly a balance between protecting our vulnerable patients, while accepting that the community is returning to normal practices throughout Bermuda. The public health emergency is over, but if you are visiting a loved one in hospital they may be more vulnerable to an infection due to age or illness. We are asking you to help protect them by wearing a mask in their room as you are in close contact for longer periods of time.

“People should also feel comfortable remaining masked throughout any other areas as a precaution. Masking in communal areas is recommended, though not mandatory, and we will continue testing patients before admissions and surgery, and regular surveillance testing in long-term care areas.”

Overview of precautions for visitors and patients from 1 December:

General masking at BHB:

  • Masking is recommended but not mandatory in most communal areas of the hospital outside of patient rooms.
    There will no longer be mask and temperature checks at the door.

When masks should be worn:

  • BHB staff will continue to mask for patient interactions, including outpatient consults, testing and in inpatient/resident rooms.
  • Patients and visitors who are vulnerable themselves should wear a mask in all areas of BHB.
  • For parents and visitors, masks must be worn in the Special Baby Care Unit (SCBU), and masking is strongly recommended in all of Maternity.
  • Patients who have cold- or flu-like symptoms must wear masks if they need a service that cannot be rescheduled, for example, a dialysis treatment or emergency visit.
  • People visiting patients or long-term care residents who are on isolation must wear the appropriate protection as advised by BHB staff before entering an isolation room.
  • People visiting patients or long-term care residents are strongly recommended to wear a mask while in patient rooms as patients and residents are more vulnerable to serious complications of a respiratory infection.

Other protections that will remain:

  • Symptom checking surveys will continue for people attending BHB outpatient services.
  • Patients who have symptoms or have tested positive for COVID-19 should reschedule hospital appointments if possible. If it is urgent for someone with symptoms to attend BHB (eg a dialysis treatment or emergency visit), they should advise staff and wear a mask.
  • All patients admitted to BHB inpatient units and people undergoing a surgical procedure will be tested for COVID-19.
  • Surveillance testing for residents in long-term care units across BHB will continue every two weeks.
  • Staff, patients and residents in any area of BHB who exhibit symptoms will be tested for COVID-19.

BHB visiting guidelines remain as follows:

Emergency Department and Lamb Foggo Urgent Care Centre:

  • Patients will be allowed one support person while in the Emergency Department or Lamb Foggo Urgent Care Centre.
  • Vulnerable adults and all children will be allowed up to two support people.
  • For patients near the end of life, up to two support people can attend.
  • If someone dies in Emergency or is brought to the hospital after passing away, only one person and one support person for that individual can attend. Up to three people can be in the family room. Other family and friends should not attend, as there is not adequate space to gather safely and the ability to offer viewings is very limited.

Acute care patients in the Acute Care Wing units (Ace Barber, Ascendant Partner Re, Catlin Lindo):

  • Patients who are not on isolation can have up to two visitors in their room at any one time between noon and 8pm.

Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute acute inpatient care units (adult, child and adolescent services):

  • Pre-identified support people can visit for one hour each day between noon and 6pm.
  • Support people must check in at the front desk.
  • One person can visit a patient at any one time, and visitation will be in a public space, such as a family conference room.

Long-term care units (KEMH and MWI, including group homes):

  • Up to two people (one at a time) can visit each resident for two hours each day between noon and 7pm.
  • No more than two visitors are allowed in rooms with more than one resident at any given time.

Isolation patients in all areas of BHB:

  • Two designated support people pre-identified by the patient can visit for up to two hours per day, wearing required protection as advised by BHB staff.

Intensive Care Unit:

  • Designated support people may visit for two hours between 10am and 2pm, or 4pm and 8pm. Visitors must be on the ICU visitors list.

Maternity Unit:

  • Symptom screening is required for support people and visitors. If they have symptoms, they will not be allowed to attend.
  • One designated support person may stay as long as needed after the birth.
  • If the mother is not discharged within 24 hours, visitors will be allowed to visit between noon and 8pm.

Gosling Unit:

  • Up to two parents may visit minor patients.
  • Adult patients can have up to two designated visitors (one at a time), between noon and 8pm.

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Notes to Editors
The Bermuda Hospitals Board is a quango (quasi autonomous non-governmental organisation) established under the Bermuda Hospitals Board Act, 1970. It has a Bermuda Government-approved Board and a Chief Executive Officer, responsible for King Edward VII Memorial Hospital and Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute. At the heart of both organisations is high-quality care to all patients.

With approximately 1,700 employees, the Bermuda Hospitals Board is Bermuda's second largest employer. King Edward VII Memorial Hospital and Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute are the only healthcare organisations in Bermuda accredited by Accreditation Canada, an independent organisation whose role is to help hospitals examine and improve the quality of care and service they provide to their clients. In addition to providing an extensive list of services for the community, the Bermuda Hospitals Board is part of a referral network that includes some of the world's leading specialist hospitals.

For more information, please visit www.bermudahospitals.bm or contact the Bermuda Hospitals Board Public Relations Department at publicrelations@bhb.bm.