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COVID-19 Update

Hospital and Emergency Care During COVID-19

During the COVID-19 pandemic and now as our communities begin to reopen, it’s important to understand that when you need medical care, you should seek treatment. Our hospitals and emergency departments are open and available to provide you with safe emergency and essential care. We are also ready to safely care for you — in-person or as a video visit — for a wide range of your health care needs.

If you have questions, please connect with us through MyChart or call your provider. We are here for you during this pandemic and as we move forward, safely treating you both in-person and remotely.

Please carefully review all the safety measures we have in place to protect all our patients and staff members.

 

Emergency Care

When should I call 911 or go to the emergency department?

Call 911 if you are experiencing potentially life-threatening symptoms.

We understand you are concerned about your safety and the safety of loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s important to seek medical care when you need it. Delaying care may create greater risks to your health.

The following are just some of the symptoms for which you should immediately call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department. (Note: This is not a complete list.)

  • Chest pain or pressure, palpitations, shortness of breath or other symptoms of heart attack or other heart problems
  • Sudden numbness, weakness, confusion, loss of vision, problems with speech or balance, or other symptoms of stroke
  • Unexplained or worsening shortness of breath, or other breathing problems
  • High fever
  • Intense or unexplained pain
  • Heavy bleeding or bleeding without an obvious cause
  • Severe injury or trauma, including deep, large or severe cuts
  • Possible fractures or broken bones
  • Any other problems that you consider an emergency

What if I'm afraid to go to the emergency department?

We understand those fears. Our emergency department is able to isolate patients who may have COVID-19 or other infections from those with other emergent problems. Emergency department staff members wear personal protective equipment and place patients who may have COVID-19 in private rooms to ensure infections are not spread from person to person. Each patient room is fully cleaned and disinfected after each patient leaves. Note also that waiting too long to seek care for some health care emergencies is a bigger risk than the chance of contracting COVID-19.


COVID-19 Safety Precautions

What safety precautions are you taking to help make sure the environment is safe and clean for me?

Your health and well-being are our highest priorities. At Johns Hopkins Medicine, our infection prevention specialists are leaders in providing guidelines to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, and we take infection prevention very seriously in all of our clinics, patient rooms and operating rooms. In addition, we have carefully planned and taken extra precautions to help ensure that we are doing everything we can to minimize any risk to our patients and staff members.

Our medical staff works closely with our Department of Hospital Epidemiology and Infection Control to ensure the highest levels of safety are observed. We combine this knowledge with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Maryland Department of Health and DC Health.

 
 

We are implementing the following safety guidelines in our hospitals:

Masked staff preparing tests.Everyone must wear masks in our care facilities.

We are screening, and as appropriate, testing.

  • Everyone is screened for COVID-19 symptoms and risk factors as they enter our buildings.
  • All patients are tested for COVID-19 prior to hospital admission and 72 hours prior to having a surgery or procedure. Patients planning to have surgery or a procedure can get more information about what to expect on our surgeries and procedures page.
  • All staff members and physicians are screened daily. They do not come to work if there is any sign of symptoms related to COVID-19.
  • We will immediately separate anyone in the facility who we believe may have COVID-19 before they encounter other patients, and we will offer testing as appropriate.

We require universal masking and wear appropriate protective equipment.

  • All staff members and patients must wear masks in the facility (except children under age 2).
  • Our care teams treating COVID-19 patients wear personal protective equipment, including N95 respirators, to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Learn more about protective equipment for staff members treating COVID-19 patients.

We are extremely focused on keeping our facilities clean.

  • Surfaces and equipment are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected using products that are effective against a range of organisms and viruses, including the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. 
  • We clean our waiting rooms frequently.
  • Our exam, procedure, treatment and operating rooms are cleaned and disinfected frequently, including before and after each patient, according to the guidelines of our Johns Hopkins infection prevention experts, the CDC, the Maryland Department of Health and DC Health.
  • Alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol is always available.
  • Our doctors, nurses and all medical staff members sanitize or wash their hands before and after interacting with patients.

We minimize the number of people at the facility and practicing physical distancing.

  • Some hospital entrances have been closed to limit traffic and make sure everyone is screened.
  • We follow all physical distancing guidelines for patients and staff members.
  • Our waiting room chairs are spaced 6 feet apart, and only a few patients are allowed in the waiting rooms at a time.
  • The number of staff members in exam rooms and operating rooms is limited and only those essential to your care are present. We maintain at least 6 feet between people except during medical care activities.
  • No visitors, family or care partners may accompany patients, with very limited exceptions.
    • One parent or guardian may accompany pediatric patients; one care partner may accompany a patient with disabilities who requires assistance. In some facilities, for adult patients, one visitor will be permitted into the lobby or lounge area. That person will be required to provide their phone number for updates, and then required to leave the facility once the patient is taken into the prep area.
    • All visitors must screen negative for COVID-19 symptoms at the facility entrance.
    • For all exceptions related to visitors, family and care partners, please review our full visitor policy.
 
 

How do I know I won’t get COVID-19 in the emergency department?

Depending on the urgency of the patient’s medical needs, everyone entering the emergency department is immediately screened for symptoms of COVID-19.

Our emergency departments isolate patients who may have COVID-19 or other infections from those with other emergent problems.

  • The emergency staff wears personal protective equipment and places patients who may have COVID-19 in specially designated private rooms to ensure infections are not spread from person to person.
  • Each patient room is fully cleaned and disinfected after each patient leaves.

How do I know I won’t get COVID-19 if I need to stay in the hospital for treatment?

Johns Hopkins Medicine has expertise in infectious diseases, and the training and preparedness to safely care for patients with COVID-19. This is our procedure for patients with COVID-19:

  • All of our hospitals screen patients for COVID-19 symptoms and risk factors.
  • All patients are tested for COVID-19 at the time of hospital admission and 72 hours prior to having a surgery or procedure. Get more information about what to expect on our surgeries and procedures page.
  • Our highly skilled staff members know how to care for a patient with COVID-19, and how to protect themselves and others.
  • Any patient known to have or under investigation for COVID-19 who is admitted to our hospitals is cared for in a separate area with special isolation precautions by a dedicated team of nurses, doctors and other health care providers.
  • Each patient room is fully cleaned and disinfected after each patient leaves.

How does Johns Hopkins make sure nurses, doctors and staff members aren’t sick?

All staff members at Johns Hopkins Medicine answer COVID-19 screening questions every day and attest that they do not have symptoms consistent with possible COVID-19 infection.

Anyone who reports symptoms is instructed to leave work immediately and report those symptoms to Johns Hopkins Medicine Occupational Health Services so that they can be evaluated and tested for COVID-19 if needed. Employees are not allowed to work if they have symptoms, and they must be cleared by Occupational Health Services before returning to work.

Are all Johns Hopkins Medicine employees tested for COVID-19?

We are committed to providing safe, high­-quality care for our communities as well as protecting our patients and employees. We currently prioritize testing of patients and employees who show symptoms of COVID-19. We follow the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which does not recommend universal testing of employees. We continue to closely monitor the situation and the relevant data. We will adjust our safety protocols when additional CDC guidance or data suggests that this is appropriate.


Surgeries and Procedures

In accordance with guidance from the Maryland Department of Health and DC Health, Johns Hopkins Medicine is performing select surgeries and procedures for our patients. Visit our surgeries and procedures page for information on making appointments, our safety measures and how to plan for your visit.

All Labor and Delivery Patients

How are you protecting women who come in for labor and delivery?

In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health of all patients and staff members, we are testing for COVID-19 and taking precautions for each woman who is admitted to Labor and Delivery for delivery. The care team will follow special infection prevention procedures and wear proper personal protective equipment.

Depending on the woman’s COVID-19 test results, she may be cared for in a negative pressure room and according to COVID-19 guidance for deliveries.

Please carefully review our restrictions in labor and delivery for visitors, family and care partners.

We will return to our pre-COVID-19, less restrictive visitor policies as soon as we feel it is safe to do so.


A sign promoting safety protocols.

In-Person Appointments

Our hospitals and emergency departments are open and available to provide you with safe emergency and essential care. We also provide many in-person appointments and video visits for a wide range of care needs. Please review our information on safety and patient care.

When should I be seen in person?

  • Call 911 or go to the emergency department if you ever experience severe or life-threatening symptoms. Urgent and emergent problems always require you to be seen in person.
  • For all other medical concerns, including treatment for chronic conditions, wellness exams, screenings and lab tests, call your doctor’s office. The care team and your doctor can help determine if an in-person appointment or video visit is most appropriate for your care need.
  • If you do come in for care, please remember that we follow guidelines to prevent spread of COVID-19. Our hospital policies include COVID-19 screening, wearing a mask and practicing physical distancing.
  • If your appointment is in a clinic within one of our hospitals, please read our in-person primary and specialty care information.

What to Expect When You Come to the Hospital

illustration of a doctor and patient wearing masks

We are ready to safely care for you in our community practices, clinics, surgery centers and hospitals. Learn about the additional steps we're taking to keep you safe.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have extra measures in place at Johns Hopkins hospitals to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

  • Everyone entering our facilities is screened for COVID-19 and must wear a face mask.
  • If you have an appointment in a clinic within one of our hospitals, please read our in-person primary and specialty care information.
  • All patients are tested for COVID-19 at the time of hospital admission and 48 to 72 hours prior to having a surgery or procedure. For more information about what to expect, please see our surgeries and procedures page.
  • Patients should plan to come alone to any appointments. Do not bring family members or friends unless you need assistance. We are currently not allowing visitors, except in very limited circumstances, including one parent or caregiver for pediatric visits and one care partner for patients with disabilities who require assistance. Read our full visitor policy for details and talk to your doctor’s office if you have questions.
  • Review what entrances and parking garages are closed at your care facility. Arrive early to allow extra time to park and enter the care facility.
  • Patients staying in the hospital are encouraged to bring their digital devices, such as a mobile device, tablet or laptop, so they can connect virtually with their loved ones during their stay. This will help patients follow our revised visitor restriction guidelines.
  • If hospital patients need items brought from home, essential items, such as hearing aids, glasses, dentures, communication devices (mobile phones, laptops, chargers), and small, inexpensive spiritual or religious items can be dropped off. Each hospital has a specific location for dropping off items.
    • For The Johns Hopkins Hospital, items may be dropped off at the front desk at the Zayed, Weinberg and Nelson buildings.
    • For Sibley Memorial Hospital, items may be dropped off at screening tables in Buildings A, B and D.
    • For Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, call the Office of Patient Experience at 410-550-0626, Monday–Friday.
    • For Suburban Hospital, items can be dropped off at the main hospital entrance and given to the security office at the information desk.
    • For Howard County General Hospital, items may be dropped at the visitor entrance. 

Visitors, Family, Care Partners

In order to protect the safety of our patients and staff members, we currently have strict restrictions for anyone accompanying or visiting patients at all Johns Hopkins Medicine facilities. Visitors, family members and care partners are not allowed in our hospitals except for a few limited exceptions. Please review these carefully.

For adult inpatient facilities, no visitors will be permitted except under specific circumstances, and by prior approval from the Johns Hopkins Medicine care team. The exceptions are:

  • End-of-life care: Two visitors are allowed at a time. Other family members need to remain outside of the facility to rotate in and out.
  • One visitor in labor and delivery and post-partum
  • One visitor for patients in inpatient hospice units
  • One visitor for accompanying patients for hospital discharge
  • One visitor for patients undergoing emergency surgery related to a traumatic event
  • One visitor to accompany a patient with disabilities who requires assistance
  • One visitor if the patient’s care team has requested the visitor to be a part of scheduled family training for patients with rehabilitation or for help with cognitive needs, with approval from the Johns Hopkins Medicine care team

You can read our full visitor policy, which contains restriction information for visitors, family and care partners related to obstetrics, OB/GYN outpatients, cancer centers and other immunocompromised patients.

For pediatric inpatient facilities – We must further restrict visitation to reduce the risk of transmission of the virus to our patients and staff:

  • The family of each pediatric patient is allowed to name up to two primary caregivers for the duration of the hospital stay.
  • The caregivers should be parents or legal guardians, must be in good health and cannot change during the patient’s hospitalization.
  • We ask that, as much as possible, only one primary caregiver be present in the hospital at any one time.
  • Pediatric patients hospitalized with possible COVID-19 will be allowed only one designated caregiver who should stay with the patient in their room during the patient’s stay.

We will return to our pre-COVID-19, less restrictive visitor policies as soon as we feel it is safe to do so.

How can I connect with my loved one in the hospital?

We have created a list of COVID-19 virtual resources that will help you stay in touch with your loved one. Please review these digital resources to connect with your loved one in the hospital and to assist them in their care.


Insurance and Financial Assistance

Since I scheduled my surgery, I lost my job and no longer have health insurance (or my insurance changed). What should I do?

If your insurance changed, please provide your clinic or surgery scheduler with the correct insurance information.

Johns Hopkins Medicine offers programs to help patients determine the best options for their unique financial situation. We can help you apply for medical assistance coverage through the state. To complete the screening and application process, please reach us at 410-955-7798. More information about financial assistance and payment plans is also available.


All Patient Information

Learn about our other patient care options, including:

You can also enroll in MyChart to manage appointments, communicate with your provider, receive test results and request prescription renewals.


Updated June 15, 2020. Please check back frequently for updates.

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