Hospitals provide latest visitation policy as COVID numbers drop | News, Sports, Jobs

MARK NANCE / Sun-Gazette Williamsport Hospital from the north side.

With COVID-19 cases on the decline, two of the larger health care providers in the city and region have either updated or discussed their visitation policies that are in place.

At Geisinger Medical Center facilities, hospitalized patients will now be allowed four designated visitors instead of only two.

UPMC facilities have not changed their visitation policy, according to Tyler Wagner, a UPMC spokesman.

At Geisinger, meanwhile, while patients are allowed to designate four visitors, only two will be allowed in the hospital room at a time. The guidelines are in place to protect the health and safety of patients and staff.

Visitors to Geisinger facilities must be designated and wear a wristband the entire time the patient is hospitalized.

Visiting hours are between 9 am and 6 pm All patients and visitors must wear a mask when on Geisinger property, regardless of vaccination status.

UPMC updated its visitation policy Jan. 13, and it has not changed, Wagner told the Sun-Gazette.

UPMC has a visitation section on its website that Wagner said remains effective as of this week. On it states the following:

“For the safety of our patients and staff and to lower their likelihood of exposure to any illness, including COVID-19, UPMC is temporarily limiting access to our facilities to only patients, identified and approved support

persons, staff, and essential vendors.

“Our visitation policies are based on information and guidelines from national, state, and local health care officials,” he said.

“UPMC continues to require people who come to any UPMC facility to wear a facemask that covers their nose and mouth and to practice other prevention efforts like physical distancing, even if they are fully vaccinated.

“If you are unable to wear a mask for medical reason (s), please talk with a staff member for reasonable accommodations.

“We are committed to keeping our facilities, staff, patients, and all other visitors as safe as possible. UPMC asks all visitors, regardless of vaccination status, to help keep our vulnerable patients and support persons safe by wearing a mask, social distancing, and maintaining hand hygiene.

“We encourage you to use FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, and phone calls to virtually visit with loved ones while they are in the hospital. If you need help with this, please let a staff member know.

“Support persons are identified by the patient and can be a spouse, partner, family member, or trusted friend. Patients who have someone who can help them manage and communicate about their care often have less anxiety, understand their care better, recover faster and are better prepared to return home. They are an important part of the care team.

“Everyone must wear a well-fitting, two-ply facemask upon entry and at all times, even if they are fully vaccinated. They must also follow social distancing guidelines.

“If you do not have a facemask, we will provide you with one. We strongly encourage support persons to wear their own masks. That way, we can preserve our supplies for staff and clinical workers.

“A gaiter or face shield are not acceptable alternatives to a facemask.

“Masks should be worn when not actively eating or drinking and should be worn properly, covering the mouth and nose.

“When staff or support persons are inside inpatient or exam rooms, patients and support persons must be masked.

“No child visitors are permitted. Support people must be at least 18 years old.

“Entrance screening, including temperature checks and employee self-screenings, are not required to enter UPMC hospitals, except for UPMC Chautauqua and UPMC Long-Term Care facilities. Screening specifics vary depending on the location and type of service…

“If you are not a patient, please do not enter our facilities if you have symptoms of COVID-19 (head cold, throat infection, pneumonia, any flu-like illness, or fever) or have been exposed to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. We trust you to help us keep our patients safe.

“If you have an appointment at one of our hospital-based outpatient centers or outpatient locations, call your doctor if you have COVID-19 symptoms or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.”

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