WATCH: Centra Health outlines new visitation policy amid rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations


LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — Centra Health held a news conference Tuesday afternoon to provide an update on the coronavirus pandemic, as well as announce visitation restriction at their hospitals.

This briefing comes after Centra officials reported an overall increase in coronavirus hospitalizations at both Lynchburg General Hospital and Centra Southside Community Hospital in Farmville last week.

As of Tuesday, Aug. 10, Dr. Chris Lewis says Lynchburg General is up to 39 coronavirus patients, which is up from 33 the day before. Of those 39 patients, Dr. Lewis says 14 are in the ICU, eight of whom are on ventilators.

According to Dr. Lewis, Centra Health will once again need to limit visitation to one visitor per patient, which is in line with other healthcare systems in the area.

Dr. Lewis also urges community members to start wearing masks again in public areas, as well as get vaccinated because the virus is affecting all ages and leaving everyone at risk.

Dr. Jeremy Hardison commented that during the initial run of COVID-19, many of the patients they saw had underlying health conditions including obesity and diabetes. Over the last two weeks, that demographic has changed.

According to Dr. Hardison, half of the patients that are currently in the hospital are generally healthy individuals, not on any medications, and are generally active. He says the Delta variant is a completely different strain.

During the press conference, Centra officials said that between 35-41 percent of the population in Centra’s area is vaccinated. In Virginia, 55.2 percent of the population is vaccinated. In the U.S., 50.8 percent of the population is vaccinated.

Health officials say that they look for full approval from the FDA on a Pfizer booster vaccine by early September.

Regarding their updated visitation policy:

Starting Monday, Aug. 16, all Centra hospitals will limit visitors in inpatient spaces to one visitor at a time, per adult for non-COVID patients. Officials say this one visitor may interchange during the patient’s hospital stay.

Professional doulas are recognized members of the care team and are not included in the visitor count, similar to clergy members.

The updated policy includes the following exceptions:

  • Labor & Delivery and Mother/Baby units will allow one care partner and one visitor
  • End of life/compassion care will allow two visitors
  • Both parents may accompany pediatric/minor patients
  • Emergency Department visitors will be limited to one designated visitor

This one visitor per patient:

  • Will only be allowed if they do not have COVID-19 symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath)
  • Will be screened each time they enter hospital facilities
  • Must wear a mask while in any building
  • Will be expected to comply to CDC guidance in place at the time of their visit

Centra encourages visitors to check their website for current visitation guidelines before arriving at the hospital. A link to their website can be found by clicking here.

Health officials say they will continue to monitor trends and will update the policy as needed.

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