As COVID-19 cases surge, Phoebe to reinstitute visitation restrictions

Phoebe Right Side

ALBANY, Ga. – Phoebe is reinstituting visitation restrictions at all its hospitals because of an ongoing surge in COVID-19 cases in southwest Georgia.

“Our top priority must be protecting our patients.  Right now, the COVID-19 transmission rate is dangerously high in the community; therefore, it has become more likely that visitors may bring the virus into our hospitals.  For months, we have screened every visitor for virus symptoms, but that is not foolproof.  It has also proven difficult to ensure visitors strictly adhere to our COVID-19 safety protocols by wearing masks at all times and avoiding contact with the patients they are visiting,” said Dianna Grant, MD, Phoebe Putney Health System Chief Medical Officer.

Hospital visitation will be suspended beginning Friday, January 8.  Exceptions to the visitor restrictions include:

  • Obstetric patients.
  • Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) patients at Phoebe’s main campus may have one birth parent plus one significant other.
  • Patients who are at end-of-life may have up to three visitors.
  • Patients with conditions that require a caregiver (as determined by the care team) may have one visitor.
  • Minors under age 18 may have two parents or guardians.
  • Patients undergoing urgent/emergent surgery or procedures may have one visitor on site during the procedure/surgery.
  • Patients in the emergency center may have one visitor, only if that visitor is identified as a medically-necessary caregiver.
  • Patients who request spiritual or religious care may be visited by one clergy member.

The number of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations have risen significantly across the state and here in southwest Georgia over the last six weeks and will likely continue to rise.  “Based on the sharp increase in COVID-19 cases following Thanksgiving, we are concerned about what will see as a result of Christmas and New Year’s gatherings.  Our latest predictive models show we may surpass the number of COVID-19 hospital admissions we endured during our peak in early April.  We must take any and all steps to try to avoid that scenario,” Dr. Grant said.

Phoebe clinical care teams will take extra steps to ensure they communicate well with patients’ families while visitation is restricted.  “Patients and their loved ones need to be empowered and active participants in their care.  We are committed to making sure we communicate regularly and comprehensively with families to make sure they have the information they need during this time when visitation must be restricted,” said Evelyn Olenick, DNP, RN, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital Chief Nursing Officer.

Phoebe leaders will evaluate the situation daily and will adjust visitation rules as necessary.  You can get the latest information on visitation rules at www.phoebehealth.com/coronavirus.