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Ballad eases visitation restrictions from COVID-19, adds requirements

Johnson City Press • May 25, 2020 at 5:00 PM

JOHNSON CITY — Ballad Health announced Monday that it will begin lifting some of the visitation restrictions put in place in March out of precaution for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

“With current data showing sustained reductions in new COVID-19 cases in the Appalachian Highlands, Ballad Health leadership has decided to ease some of the visitation restrictions that were initially instituted on March 21,” the health care system announced in a news release.

Effective Tuesday, Ballad Health’s latest visitation policy and patient guidelines will allow:

— One visitor at a time per inpatient, who has not tested positive for COVID-19. The visitor will be allowed during limited hours each day, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

— One designated visitor to accompany patients in the emergency department or pediatric emergency department.

— One designated visitor or support person for each patient receiving an inpatient procedure or surgery.

— One support person for laboring and obstetric patients.

— Two parents or guardians will be permitted in the NICU, PICU and in rooms with a pediatric patient. Hours of visitation are not restricted in these areas.

“We know how much it means to patients to have their loved ones, friends and family beside them during their health care visits, and we also know it’s been extremely hard during the COVID-19 pandemic as patients and families were restricted from seeing each other out of an abundance of safety,” Dr. Clay Runnels, executive vice president and chief physician executive for Ballad Health, said in the release.

“So it is quite relieving to be able to announce that at least some of our visitation restrictions will be lifted to give our patients time with their family and friends while they receive care in our facilities” Runnels said.”Having that support system there for them is so vital, and I just want to applaud our team members, nurses and doctors for really stepping up and providing that emotional support when no one else could be there.”

Ballad Health will continue to maintain its policy of not allowing visitors under 18 unless they qualify for an approved extenuating circumstance. No visitation of COVID-19 positive patients or patients who are under investigation, except during end-of-life situations, will be permitted. The no-visitation policy will continue to apply to behavioral health patients, long-term care patients undergoing outpatient testing, unless that patient needs special assistance.

Visitation for palliative care, hospice, comfort care and critical care patients, who are not COVID-19 positive, will remain the same. It includes:

— A maximum of four visitors may be present in the patient room at any one time.

— Visitation should primarily be limited to immediate family members/significant individuals to the patient.

— Visits should be planned, and the schedule communicated to the screening team at the facility’s entrance.

— Considering an unknown length of the process, the family visits may occur daily if desired and as scheduled above.

— Visitors should proceed to the patient room and exit the facility directly.

— Individual exception to the number of family members may be considered if approved by nursing leadership and based on the patient’s care provision requirements at the time of the visit request.

Each visitor entering Ballad Health facilities must be screened and wear a self-provided cloth face covering or mask. Visitors without cloth face coverings will not be permitted to visit.

The updated visitation policies will remain in place until further notice. An increased surge of COVID-19 patients in the community or hospitals may cause visitation restrictions to be reinstated.

Ballad will issue communication when the restrictions are lifted or modified. COVID-19 news and updates will continue to be shared to www.balladhealth.org/COVID19.

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