Centra Health continues to loosen visitation policies amid coronavirus pandemic


LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — After Wednesday morning’s news conference, Centra Health announced more relaxed hospital visitation guidelines in response to the current level of community spread of the coronavirus.

On Wednesday, March 17, Dr. Chris Lewis reported that Lynchburg General Hospital currently has eight coronavirus patients, one of whom is in the ICU. That is a fraction of the record 133 COVID-19 patients reported earlier this winter.

Centra Health officials also reported a death total of 326.

Dr. Michael Elliot says demand for vaccines has remained high and Centra has put more than 30,000 doses into people’s arms, not having to throw out a single dose.

According to a statement released by Centra Health Wednesday afternoon, all Centra hospitals will start allowing two visitors per inpatient adult for non-coronavirus patients, as well as patients in the Labor and Delivery and Mother/Baby Units as of Friday, March 19. Health officials say Centra will allow visitors to take turns, but will require two at a time. In addition, professional doulas and members of the clergy are reportedly considered part of the care team, so they will not be included in the visitor count.

On the other hand, Centra Health says emergency room and procedural areas will remain restricted to one visitor per patient because of space constraints.

In addition, according to Wednesday’s statement, all visitors:

  • Must be 18 years of age or older.
  • Will only be allowed if they do not have COVID-19 symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath).
  • Will be screened each time they enter, will be asked a series of questions, and will have their temperature checked.
  • Must wear a mask while in any Centra building.
  • Should limit going in and out of care areas and buildings.
  • Will be expected to practice social distancing.
  • Should remain in patient rooms because congregate waiting rooms — except for designated waiting areas for the operating room, interventional radiology, and the catherization lab — will remain closed.

Except for the Emergency Department, Labor and Delivery, Mother/Baby, and end of life patients, health officials say visitation hours will be from 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. every day.

However, the following areas around Centra hospitals will still be restricted:

  • COVID units, except for end of life care
  • The Centra Alan B. Pearson Regional Cancer Center because of highly compromised immune systems
  • Adult and Geriatric Psychiatric Units at Virginia Baptist Hospital

Meanwhile, health officials say skilled nursing facilities and assisted living facilities — such as Guggenheimer, The Summit, Oakwood Health and Rehab, and Fairmont Crossing — will continue indoor and outdoor visitation as follows:

  • Designated locations
  • By appointment
  • No more than two visitors per resident
  • No children or pets
  • Visitors will continue to be screened for symptoms of COVID-19

“The safety of our patients and caregivers remains our top priority. We appreciate your help keeping our loved ones and community safe,” Centra Health said in Wednesday’s statement. “Working together, we are confident these measures will continue to help us through the COVID-19 pandemic within our facilities while balancing the important visitation needs of our patients. We will continue to monitor this policy and will adapt as needed if the safety of our Caregivers and patients requires it.”

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