hospital visitation

Hospitals Limiting Visitors Amid COVID-19 Surge

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As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, places with vulnerable populations are taking additional precautions, including hospitals and a nursing home.

“It’s normal population patients plus COVID patients, and our numbers are just kind of through the roof,” said Bristol Hospital Emergency Department Assistant Nurse Manager Deann Drury.

With the spike in COVID-19 cases, hospitals are putting in place additional precautions.

At Bristol Hospital, they’re not allowing visitors in the emergency department. They say in the last few weeks, they’ve seen about a 30% increase in the number of patients coming through that area.

“Trying to keep social distancing in the waiting room is really tough when you have 30 people in the waiting room. But then if they all have a visitor, now we have 60 people in the waiting room," Drury said.

Bristol Hospital said there are exceptions to the policy, which includes minors with a guardian and patients experiencing end of life.

Yale New Haven Health updated its policy last week saying all visitors to admitted patients in its hospitals will need to show proof of being fully vaccinated or have a negative PCR test within 72 hours. Home test kits won’t be accepted, and patients will be allowed one visitor per day.

“Our visitor policy has been pretty dynamic over the course of the pandemic,” said Middlesex Health Emergency Department Chair Dr. Jon Bankoff.

Middlesex Health also made changes last week. They altered visiting hours and put in place one visitor per patient per day. That policy also has exceptions.

Bankoff said it’s a daily conversation, and the goal is to not restrict visitors completely.

“The biggest thing for us is we wanted to make sure we weren’t putting more risks in our departments, in our waiting rooms, for our patients and for our staff,” said Bankoff.

Shady Oaks Assisted Living in Bristol is taking extra precautions, too.

“We have to protect the elderly. We just have to protect the elderly and the immune compromised,” said Shady Oaks Assisted Living owner and director Tyson Belanger.

Belanger said so far, they haven’t had one resident test positive during the entire pandemic, and they want to keep it that way. He says they’re testing staff and residents more frequently, and he also bought extra masks to hand out.

“I bought thousands of extra ones that I can give out to my staff so they and their families can be safer out in the community. The safer our staff is out in the community, the safer our residents will be in here,” said Belanger.

Belanger said they’ve also upped the amount of air purifiers they have in the facility with four of them in every resident’s room. In addition, he says they’re experimenting with testing visitors and having booster requirements for those who come inside.

While adding these precautions, he said he’s also hoping for support from the state in terms of more masks and tests.

“We need support for our senior homes and healthcare facilities. We’ve got to make it through this month. We’ve got to make it through the next two months. We’ve been through this before. We can do it again with the right tools,” said Belanger.

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