saint agnes

Image via Saint Agnes Medical Center Facebook page

published on December 22, 2021 - 1:48 PM
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Hospital visitation has ebbed and flowed throughout the pandemic, and even amid a surge of the new Omicron variant, some hospitals are loosening restrictions. 

Kaweah Health announced it would be loosening its visitor guidelines as of Tuesday. The change comes as it says Tulare County is seeing lower transmission rates and fewer Covid-19 patients in the hospital. 

New guidelines will allow non-Covid patients one unique visitor per day during visiting hours. However, visitation guidelines remain unchanged for Covid-positive patients, who are only allowed video visits. 

“We are the first to recognize and fully support that visitation is a critical part of the care process. Visitors help relieve anxiety, they improve communication between the patient and care team, and they are part of the healing process,” said Gary Herbst, CEO at Kaweah Health. “Restricting visitors has been the hardest thing we have ever had to do. We’re excited about this change we’re going to make and we hope it continues to go in this direction.” 

A spokesperson for Saint Agnes Medical Center in Fresno said the hospital changed its visitation policy last week. 

She also noted that seeing family or loved ones is part of the healing process. Yet it’s been a balancing act between giving patients healing through seeing family and also keeping the rest of hospital patients and staff safe from the spread of Covid-19. 

Saint Agnes changed its policy to allow patients with an extended stay — at least one week in the hospital — to have one visitor per week. Before, no visitors were allowed.

“We recognize it’s hard on families,” she said. 

Though the policy is restrictive by comparison, it allows for evaluation on a case-by-case basis. Exceptions also include end of life. 

Kaweah Health has allowed and is continuing to allow two guardians in for pediatric care and one visitor per patient in the emergency department once the patient has been taken to a room. 

Community Medical Centers visitor policy is staying the same. Patients are only allowed phone visits. Its website says it is taking no visitors, with very few exceptions, including for obstetrics, the neonatal intensive care unit, end-of-life care, accompanying a person with disabilities and those who need assistance with discharge instructions. 

Kaiser Permanente in Fresno is also keeping its visitor policy the same, allowing no visitors unless accompanying someone at the end of life, for labor and delivery, surgery recovery and discharge, pediatrics, or accompanying someone with a disability. 

All permitted hospital visitors will be screened for Covid symptoms and required to wear a surgical mask while in health care facilities and in patient care areas per state guidelines. They must be fully vaccinated or have tested negative for COVID-19 in the prior 72 hours before indoor visits or show proof of medical release from COVID-19 isolation, per state guidelines. 

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