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story.lead_photo.caption A file photo of the National Park Medical Center campus. - File photo by The Sentinel-Record

CHI St. Vincent Hot Springs and National Park Medical Center updated their visitor policies to more restrictive practices over the past week in an effort to protect everyone inside the facilities from the novel coronavirus.

As the pandemic evolves, so will hospital protocols that are modeled after national and state health officials, hospital officials said.

"CHI St. Vincent is closely following and adapting our policies in accordance with federal, state and local public health guidelines related to COVID-19," CHI St. Vincent Media Relations Director Joshua Cook said. "We will continue to adjust our approach based on the dynamic nature of this evolving situation to make sure we are following the most current clinical and operational guidance."

NPMC Communications Director Mandy Golleher said the community has been "very supportive" and "really appreciative," as the facility prioritizes its visitors' and patients' safety by practicing the "best practices" from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Arkansas Department of Health.

According to CHI St. Vincent's website, no visitors will be allowed in the hospitals and clinics with the exception of the following:

• Visitors age 18 or older for patients receiving end-of-life care at the discretion of the physician.

• One support person age 18 or older per OB patient.

• One parent per pediatric patient at a time.

• One parent per NICU patient at a time.

• One visitor age 18 or older for patients undergoing urgent procedures or their driver.

• One visitor per emergency room patient deemed to be in critical condition by the emergency room physician and those who use a wheelchair and requires assistance. Minors will be allowed one parent; all others will be asked to remain in their vehicle.

• Any other visitation requests will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis in consultation with the physician and hospital leadership.

Similar to CHI St. Vincent, NPMC has also progressed to a "zero-visitor" policy, with some exceptions.

"The main exceptions are going to be sort of the same exceptions that you saw with the last visiting policy, and that's going to be pediatric patients, obstetric patients and end-of-life patients, and those patient populations will be allowed one visitor over the age of 18," Golleher said.

She noted that if anyone has questions about the updated policy, they can call NPMC at 321-1000, and staff members can "walk them through and help them figure out the best way to keep in touch with loved ones in the hospital."

According to NPMC's website, in addition to the updated visitor policy, the facility is also limiting entry points and implementing a screening process upon entering.

Everyone entering the facility should come through the main entrance from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, or the Emergency Department entrance facing Malvern Avenue around the clock, the website says.

" ... All patients, visitors and staff entering the facility will be screened with questions regarding respiratory symptoms and travel history, per CDC recommendations. Patients with symptoms will immediately be provided masks and managed per CDC guidelines."

Cook said CHI St. Vincent will also limit entrance points and implement screening upon entering.

"We will continue following the most current clinical and operational guidance regarding screening, diagnosis and treatment of any COVID-19 cases in our community," he said.

For those restricted from patient visitation, NPMC's website provides alternatives to visiting, such as calling a patient's room directly or using video chat apps such as FaceTime for iPhone users, or WhatsApp, Zoom, Skype and Google Hangouts.

Local on 03/28/2020

Print Headline: Hospitals adopt more restrictive visitor policies due to virus

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