Digital Exclusive: Hospitals return to no visitation policies

Digital Exclusive

EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — With the rise in coronavirus cases, hospitals are returning to no visitation policies. Lehigh Valley Health Network announced its “No Visitation, No Access” policy will go into effect November 17th.

Geisinger stopped allowing visitors on November 2nd. Doctors say they understand the need for visitation, but this step is being taken to protect the safety for both hospital staff and patients.

“If we are worried about hospitalizations for COVID, this is the time to start thinking about those things and making contingency times if you hadn’t already made them,” said Dr. Alex Benjamin, Chief Infection Control Officer at Lehigh Valley Health Network.

“With the prevalence of COVID-19 infection in the community now, pretty much every person that you come in contact with has a chance to have an infection,” said Dr. Gerald Maloney, Chief Medical Officer at Geisinger Hospital Services.

There are exemptions to the policies.

“Some of the circumstances are end of life care, if a patient other than a COVID patient is dying we will try and enable visitation for them. The COVID patients cannot have visitors at any time for the obvious reasons. Children in the hospital can have a parent visit, a woman in labor can have a partner present,” said Dr. Maloney.

Dr. Benjamin says that exemptions to the policies have been added as scientists learn more about who is at risk for the virus.

“So, from the spring, we also realized that we… Because we know a little bit more about COVID, have access to PPE and staff, we also want to be… I guess the word is humane, about our visitation policy. We don’t want to be too strict. I think the one example of that is allowing pediatric patients who are going to be here a long time, to have siblings visit as well,” Dr. Benjamin said.

He says accommodations will also be made in outpatient settings as well. Doctors are not sure when the no visitor policies will be lifted, but that return to normalcy will not be dependent on a vaccine for the virus.

“I think it’s just gonna.. the visitation really just depends on the prevalence of COVID in the communities. So if we get through an other I don’t know two months like what we did in the spring, we’re looking at… We’re not even thinking about relaxing the visitation rules until January,” Dr. Benjamin said.

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