COVID FAQ: For Patients and Visitors

Patient and Visitor Screening

Are patients and visitors screened for symptoms of illness before entry to Brigham Health facilities?

Yes, knowing that COVID-19 is with us for the foreseeable future, all patients and visitors are screened for symptoms of respiratory illness before they can enter our facilities. We ask patients and visitors to use our Mass General Brigham Prescreen app at prescreen.massgeneralbrigham.org before their arrival. The app is available in English and Spanish. It walks users through a series of questions to screen for symptoms of illness. Screening questions must be answered on the day of your appointment or visit. Learn how to use the app before your visit.

After answering the screening questions, patients and visitors will receive a digital pass on their phone that provides faster entry to our facilities. Patients who may have completed a phone screening prior to their visit still need to answer questions on the prescreen app before entry.

For patients and visitors who need help in other languages, staff are available to assist at our entrances.

Which entrance do I use?

Patients and visitors are asked to enter through the 75 Francis St. or 45 Francis St. entrances at this time. If you need directions to your destination within the hospital, use our Maps app to plan your route.

Testing

I think I might have COVID-19, should I get tested?

Refer to our page about COVID-19 for risk factors, symptoms and other information.

If you are an established Mass General Brigham patient with a primary care provider, we recommend you contact your provider’s office by phone or via Patient Gateway if you have symptoms that may indicate exposure to COVID-19 or if you believe you may have been exposed.

If you are an established Mass General Brigham patient and do not have a primary care provider — or are unable to reach them — there are other resources available to you:

  1. Use the Mass General Brigham COVID-19 Screener. This always-on web tool allows Mass General Brigham patients who have symptoms of COVID-19 — or who are concerned about exposure to COVID-19 — to walk through a few automated online questions. At the end of the brief assessment, patients will be directed to next steps based on their health status.
  2. Call the Mass General Brigham COVID-19 Nurse Line at 617-724-7000. Staffed from 8am to 8pm Monday through Friday and 8am to 5pm Saturday and Sunday, nurses are available to respond to general or specific questions about COVID-19 for those who have symptoms, believe they may have been exposed, or are looking to learn more. If treatment is needed, they will guide you through next steps. Interpreters can be added to calls for patients who need it.
  3. Launch a video visit with an urgent care provider at Mass General Brigham On Demand. Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, Mass General Brigham On Demand is suggested for those who have symptoms of COVID-19 and/or have underlying conditions that may put them at greater risk. A doctor or advanced practitioner will conduct an intake assessment via a secure video visit and recommend next steps. Note that this service is only available to established Mass General Brigham patients in Massachusetts.

Safety

What is the Brigham doing to keep patients, their families and staff safe?

The health and safety of our patients, families and staff is our top priority. As we prepare to welcome more patients back to our hospital and outpatient facilities, we are taking a comprehensive approach to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. We know that COVID-19 will be with us for the foreseeable future, so we’ve implemented the following measures to provide the safest possible environment:

  • Performing rigorous, around-the-clock cleaning for all areas, with additional emphasis on patient care areas
  • Screening all patients, visitors and staff for respiratory illness at entrances
  • Requiring all patients, visitors and staff to wear masks to help prevent spread of infection
  • Enforcing physical distancing in our buildings and encouraging everyone to practice good hand hygiene
  • Modifying schedules across the hospital and our outpatient facilities to limit the number of people onsite at one time

Learn more about our Safe Care Commitment.

If you are limiting staff, will there be enough people to provide safe care?

The hospital is committed to ensuring that we have appropriate staff to care for every patient. The majority of staff who are working remotely are in administrative support roles.

What cleaning techniques are being used to prevent spread of infection?

Our specially trained and certified staff thoroughly cleans our facilities around the clock. This involves using methods recommended by the CDC for disinfecting patient care areas and all common areas, including hallways, waiting rooms, restrooms, elevators and dining areas.

Is it safe to take elevator rides with other people?

Our Infection Control leaders have advised that being in close proximity to others for brief periods of time is acceptable when everyone is wearing masks. In our elevators, floor stickers indicate where occupants should stand to maintain at least two feet of spacing between all occupants.

Are wheelchairs being cleaned between use?

Yes, wheelchairs are always cleaned between patients.

Is there a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) at the hospital?

While there were shortages of some items of PPE throughout the pandemic, all of our care sites currently have adequate supply of all necessary PPE.

Should I wear a face mask?

In light of new data about how COVID-19 spreads, along with evidence of widespread COVID-19 illness in communities across the country, CDC recommends that people wear a cloth face covering to cover their nose and mouth in the community setting.

Please note, effective Monday April 6, all patients and visitors in any clinical setting at Brigham and Women’s Hospital will be supplied with a procedural or surgical mask which must be worn as part of our continued efforts to protect our health care workers and patients.

For more information about face masks, see “How To Protect Yourself” on the CDC’s FAQ webpage.

How can I help keep the Brigham Health community safe?

We ask you to help us keep our community safe by:

  • Calling us before you visit if you have symptoms of respiratory illness.
  • Checking in for your appointment via phone or Patient Gateway.
  • Always leaving 6 feet between yourself and others.
  • Wearing a mask at all times during your visit.
  • Practicing good hand hygiene.
  • Alerting a Brigham staff member if you have any safety questions or concerns.

Virtual Visits

What if I cannot/will not come to the hospital/clinic?

Virtual visits are one-on-one video or phone appointments with your health care provider. These visits allow you to get medical care and guidance from the comfort of your own home.

Patients may schedule a range of appointments, from follow-up visits to first-time consultations about a procedure or surgery. Specialists available for virtual visits may include doctors, physician assistants, nurse practitioners and others. Learn more about virtual visits.

COVID-19 Exposure

How do I know if my health care provider has been exposed to COVID-19?

While asymptomatic health care providers may be COVID-positive, all staff must attest that they are symptom-free before coming to the hospital at the start of each shift. If a health care provider tests positive for COVID-19, the Brigham activates an intensive tracing process to determine patients and staff members with whom that provider has interacted with during the timeframe when the provider was infectious. Leveraging information from our electronic health record, we will determine who the provider has interacted with and for how long.

If a healthcare provider tests positive for COVID-19, a member of our quality and safety team contacts the patients that may have been exposed to infection. Exposure is defined as 10 or more cumulative minutes of face-to-face contact without a mask, within 6 feet with a confirmed COVID-19 case starting from two calendar days prior to symptom onset.

Will my hospital room be private to limit my exposure to the virus?

Our patient access team will determine if a private room is required, and all patients are thoroughly screened before being assigned to a shared room.

Where are COVID patients in the hospital?

COVID patients are cared for in a combination of dedicated COVID units as well as in other specialized units when needed for patient care. All COVID rooms are clearly marked and operated in accordance with strict infection control guidelines to protect staff and other patients.

How many COVID patients are in the hospital right now?

The number of inpatients changes daily.

Visitor Policy

What is the current visitor policy?

Brigham and Women’s Hospital is a patient- and family-focused environment. We appreciate the need of our patients to have visitors and the need of family and friends to provide support to their loved one while in the hospital.

In alignment with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’s phase 2 recovery guidance, we are updating our visitor policy effective June 10, 2020. Learn more about our current visitor policy.

I use a wheelchair. If I can’t bring in my significant other, how will I get around the hospital if I need assistance?

Our patient transport staff are here to help you navigate the hospital. We can help you arrange for assistance during your visit.

Surgery

How many people are allowed in the surgery waiting room?

Our surgical waiting area has been modified to ensure we meet physical distancing guidelines of at least 6 feet of space between patients.

Have you implemented physical distancing in surgery waiting rooms?

Yes. Waiting rooms and other common spaces have been modified to encourage physical distancing.

How do you know the virus isn’t in the Operating Rooms?

Our specially trained and certified staff thoroughly cleans our Operating Room facilities around the clock. This involves using methods recommended by the CDC for disinfection.

After my surgery, how can I leave as soon as possible but also ensure I have a proper recovery?

Your care team will develop your discharge plan based on your health condition following surgery to ensure you have the best possible recovery.

Transportation, Parking and Lodging

Is valet open? Are they being screened? Are they wearing PPE?

Yes. Our valet team has implemented the following safety measures:

  • All staff undergo a daily health screening for symptoms and attest to wellness.
  • Staff wear masks and practice proper hand hygiene.
  • Staff protect the interiors of cars with seat and gear covers.
  • Staff also wipe down steering wheels and keys with sanitizer.

Can you recommend a nearby hotel my loved one can stay at?

Our patient & family relations team can assist with finding lodging.

Have you implemented safety measures for shuttles?

Yes. We have worked with Mass General Brigham (MGB), the Medical Academic and Scientific Community Organization (MASCO) and other Longwood Medical and Academic Area (LMA) institutes to ensure shuttles are as safe as possible. These efforts include:

  • Implementing additional cleaning and sanitation schedules.
  • Marking seats to manage capacity.
  • Expecting all riders to wear masks in accordance with Massachusetts State Universal Masking. Please bring your own mask.
  • Eating or drinking is not permitted on any shuttle.
  • On-site shuttle monitors are available to assist riders during peak hours at Crosstown and Chestnut Hill during this transition period.

To enable physical distancing, MASCO shuttles will be running at 50 percent capacity, with one rider per two-seat row. When a vehicle reaches capacity, shuttle drivers will inform riders that they must wait for the next shuttle.

MGB shuttles will operate at 75 percent capacity with one passenger per seat and no standing passengers. MGB transportation staff will enforce correct and consistent use of face masks and deny entry to individuals who do not comply.

Both MGB and MASCO have added shuttles at peak times to high volume routes. School buses have been secured to provide additional capacity for the three busiest routes: Crosstown, Chestnut Hill and Faulkner.

Thank You To Our COVID-19 Supporters

We are grateful to our generous donors for helping us care for patients and families, protect our staff on the frontlines, and fuel innovation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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