Hartford HealthCare Announces New Visitation Restrictions, Command Center

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Hartford HealthCare has announced a new visitation restriction for all 400 of its facilities.

Health leaders say it's one of the many preventative measures taken to eliminate patient's contact with those who may have or show symptoms of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

HHC facilities will only allow one visitor per patient when entering any acute care facilities. Visitors will go through a health screening before entering.

"If a visitor believes they have a fever or cough or any coronavirus symptoms, we will make sure that those individuals have been managed and taken care of," said Dr. Ajay Kumar, executive vice president of Hartford HealthCare.

Hartford HealthCare is placing a ban on visitation at nursing homes while assisted living facilities will have some restricted visitation.

"We anticipate the ban and visitation restrictions will be in place for several weeks at this time, but the restrictions will be lifted if things change," Kumar said.

A new 24-hour text option is available for those who believe they have symptoms or have any coronavirus-related questions. The public can text 3-1-9-9-6 and coronavirus to get questions answered.

"You will get real-time updates from Hartford Healthcare Preparedness and what we are doing differently or new at that time," said Kumar. "We will be able to advise the public on how they can protect themselves or what precautions they need to take."

There are plans in place for healthcare workers, too.

"Our colleagues have been trained and they've been advised to manage what needs to be done at this time," Kumar explained.

Hartford HealthCare has also opened a command center to help get the public's questions and concerns answered.

For more than a week, volunteers and nurses have been answering calls 24 hours a day.

"We received over a thousand calls from across the country," said Elizabeth Ciotti, the vice president at Hartford HealthCare Logistics Center. "Our job right now is to educate people and calm them down and to calm them down."

It's been an all-hands-on-deck approach to answer questions from those who may think they have symptoms or have other questions.

"We have literally had thousands of encounters with people in our community that we're coordinating with to answer questions," added Jeffrey Flaks, president and CEO of Hartford HealthCare.

Callers phone in and go through a tier system, first speaking with a health representative to determine where the call needs to be routed.

Carolyn Bousquet is a nurse at the command center.

"As soon as someone deems that they have symptoms or state that they have recently traveled, we try to help them determine their symptoms," said Bousquet. "Our calls are then transferred to a nurse or our in-house physician to provide further guidance.

Nurse managers said that these are the best ways to prevent getting the virus.

"Wash your hands, and make sure you have your flu shot and make sure you have plenty of sleep and rest," said Ciotti.

The number for the command center is 1-860-972-8100.

You can also visit the state's coronavirus information website here. 

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