CA Dept of State Hospitals - Atascadero: Visitor and Family Information

*** Notice of Visiting Closure ***

On April 20, 2018, the hospital's visiting room is temporary closed to all visitors until further notice. Please check this website for updates after Monday, April 23, 2018, before visiting.


Listed below is general information for visitation. For other patient information including patient rights and other patient service regulations, see the links to the left.

Due to security and operational requirements, and periodic quarantines, visiting regulations are subject to change without prior notice. To ensure visitors are aware of current regulations, it is advisable to contact Telecommunications at (805) 468-2000 prior to visitation. Visitors may also contact the Public Information Officer at (805) 468-2008 to request a copy of the hospital's visiting regulations.

Visiting hours are 8:15 AM until 1:45 PM daily
(Please allow approximately one-half hour to be processed into the Visiting Room.)

We encourage you to visit on weekends and holidays so as not to interfere with the patient's treatment schedule. If you wish to talk with staff, however, it is best to visit on a weekday.

The Department of State Hospitals (DSH) has established a new policy for influenza prevention. To protect our patients and staff, all DSH staff and all visitors to DSH hospitals will be required to provide proof of influenza vaccination. Those who are unable to provide proof of influenza vaccination will be required to wear a protective mask, provided by the hospital. The policy will remain in effect from Nov. 1, 2016, to April 15, 2017. Thank you for your cooperation.

Please do not visit if you have a fever of 100 degrees F or greater, active cough, shaking chills, sore throat with or without swollen glands in your neck, unusual severe headache or neck pain, loose or frequent stools (diarrhea), vomiting, or have traveled or been around someone who has traveled to the following countries within the last 21 days:  Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Yemen, Oman, Iran, or Qatar.

General Regulations:

Department of State Hospitals – Statewide Contraband List

In accordance with Welfare & Institutions Code Section 7295, to ensure its safety and security, the Department of State Hospitals has developed a list of items deemed contraband at every state hospital.

A. "Contraband" means materials, articles, or goods that patients are prohibited from having in their possession because such materials, articles or goods present a risk to safety and security in the facility. (Welf. & Inst. Code, § 7295, subd. (i); Cal. Code Regs., tit. 9, § 881, subd. (e).)

B. Items restricted to use only under supervision or control may be considered contraband for the purposes of this list, as they should not be in patient’s possession without supervision. All items that are illegal to possess are by default considered to be contraband, whether specifically contained in this list or not. This includes any items prohibited as a condition of parole as it applies to any patient on active parole while housed in a DSH facility.

Statewide Contraband List


All visitors are required to register at the Visitor Registration Desk in the main lobby, and present a valid photo identification issued by a state or federal agency. Providing false or incomplete information to the registration officer may result in the denial of visiting privileges.

Required Visitor Health Questionnaire:

All visitors are required to complete the Hospital Visitor Health Questionnaire. Please select from the language choices below:

The completed form will be evaluated. Visitation will be denied if the visitor is actively ill or determined to be ill by designated nursing staff.

Property and Metal Detector Screening:

All visitors are processed through the metal detector, and all property is searched by Police Services.

Mail and Package:

How to send funds to a patient's account:

Personal checks or money orders should be mailed directly to patients’ accounts for deposit and will be made payable to: Department of State Hospitals - Atascadero for ‘patient name.’  For example, this can also be abbreviated as “ DSH - Atascadero for John Doe.”  The sender’s name and address will also need to be included with all checks or money orders.  Cash and/or travelers checks shall not be accepted in the mail. They will be returned to sender at the return address listed on the original envelope.  The address to mail funds to be applied to a patient’s account is:

Patients’ Accounts
Department of State Hospitals – Atascadero
P.O. Box 7001
Atascadero, CA 93423-7001

How to send mail to a patient

To write a patient, the address is:

PATIENT NAME (include AT# and Unit# if known)
P.O. BOX 7001

Incoming Packages:

Effective December 1, 2013, Department of State Hospitals – Atascadero will only accept packages from approved vendors. You may request catalogs from the vendors as well as shop on their websites. Patient packages received from any sender other than those listed in the Acceptable Incoming Items List cannot be accepted. Please remember that not all products advertised online or in the catalogs are allowed at DSH-Atascadero. Please check the "Acceptable Items List" before ordering.

All incoming packages must have the patient’s name and AT number. The unit number of the patient (if known) is helpful to further ensure proper and timely delivery.

The criteria below define a package as anything:

1. Greater than ½ inch think or heavier than 16 ounces;

2. Identified by electronic scanning device as containing anything other than correspondence; or

3. Containing bubble wrap or additional packing material;

Patients may not receive packages from private residences or from any non-approved vendor.

All incoming mail and packages will be opened and searched by the Department of Police Services. Cash and/or Traveler’s Checks are not allowed in patient mail or packages. All mail and packages must have a return address that includes first and last name of the sender and a physical street address.

Packages shall neither exceed 30 pounds in weight nor exceed the size limitations of 24" x 19" x 12". Packages exceeding the weight or size limitations will not be accepted by the hospital from the Post Office or shipping agent.

Acceptable and Forbidden Items:

For a list of Acceptable Items, see Acceptable Incoming Items(Spanish). Prohibited Items shall not enter the secured areas of the hospital. Prohibited items include: wireless communication devices (including cell phones), memory storage devices, tobacco products and money. It is illegal to bring in any prohibited items--the California Welfare and Institution Code 4139 states that any person who attempts to introduce with intent to deliver prohibited items to a patient is a misdemeanor.

Access for Children:

Children (under the age of 18) may be allowed access to the visiting area with prior approval from the Clinical Administrator or designee or the Executive Officer of the Day (EOD) after-hours. It is advisable to obtain this approval well in advance of the planned visit.

Number of Visitors Allowed:

No more than six (6) visitors per patient are allowed at one time.

Visitor Dress Code:

Visitor clothing shall be conservative. Khaki-colored clothing (beige, tan, etc.) is prohibited.

The following clothing is restricted or prohibited:

  • shorts,
  • strapless or transparent garments
  • halter/midriff tops,
  • tank tops,
  • any wrap-around clothing
  • under-wire garments
  • skirts or dresses shall fall below the knee
  • clothing slits in excess of 4 inches
  • leg-warmers
  • lycra or spandex clothing
  • camouflage/fatigue designs
  • wigs (exception: for medical reasons with prior approval)
  • clothing with hoods
  • scarves
  • gloves or hats
  • open-toed shoes


Food and Refreshments While Visiting:

Visitors may not bring food into the visiting room. There are vending machines in the visiting room for beverages or snacks. Vending machines require silver coins, and a one-dollar change machine is also available. No more than $15 in one dollar bills or coins per visitor.

No more than $15 in one dollar bills and/or coins for the individual visited (i.e., three visitors would be allowed a combined total of $60 ($15 for each visitor and $15 for the person they are visiting.)).