With new cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) reported in Hampton Roads and the Peninsula, area hospitals are taking extra precautions to prevent the spread of the virus to patients and visitors.
Sentara Healthcare announced a new visitation policy that prohibits family members and friends from gathering in waiting rooms, according to the organization’s website. However, the policy can be adjusted for end-of-life situations.
“This is the best practice that limits exposure and hopefully approves visitors we know are well,” said Dale Gauding, spokesman for Sentara.
Sentara also is limiting routine hospital visitation to only two visitors for each patient.
At Sentara’s life care facilities, which include nursing centers, rehabilitation center, PACE and the assisted living village, visitation is limited to only two people per day between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m.
All visitors to the senior facilities will have to answer a number of screening questions in regards to their recent travel and the current state of their health. Visitors to the senior centers will also be required to sign a visitation book.
Sentara’s College of Health sciences has also suspended its in-person classes and will move to online learning. However, students will still participate in skills labs, simulations and clinical rotations in hospitals.
Gauding said Sentara officials are asking visitors to not come into the facilities if they are sick with fever and sneezing. He said visitors should consider connecting with their loved ones through online resources or by phone.
In addition, Gauding said Sentara has a partnership with MDLive that can do a verbal screening if patients think they are sick with the virus. Through the 24-hour platform, patients can answer a series of questions about their travel history and symptoms and if a physician online finds the patient meets the criteria for being tested, then the patient will be referred to a local facility.
“It’s serving a purpose where people can be safe at home and not expose other people to whatever they have,” Gauding said.
Gauding added that the new procedures and policies are all continuously being updated as the situation develops.
Riverside Health Systems has also limited the number of visitors to its hospitals, emergency departments, outpatient clinics and lifelong health residential facilities, according to a news release.
Two visitors are allowed per hospital patient during the hours of 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Children younger than 12 years old are not allowed to visit.
Riverside operates hospitals in Newport News, Williamsburg, Gloucester and Tappahannock and Onancock.
In addition, residential lifelong health facilities visitors will be screened prior to entry and could be denied entry to the facility depending on the outcome.
“Visitors are asked not to enter facilities if they are sick with coughing, sneezing or fever, or if they have traveled to an area with confirmed COVID-19 cases,” according to the news release. “Riverside visitation is discouraged at all convalescent centers, rehabilitation centers and assisted living residences.”
“Visitors to these facilities with extenuating circumstances should contact the administrator or nursing director.”
Riverside is monitoring the coronavirus in partnership with the Virginia Department of Health.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Clean your hands often. Wash with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds, or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, throw the tissue in the trash, and wash or sanitize your hands.
- Stay home if you are sick.