In response to the developing COVID-19 outbreak in Georgia and Alabama, Tanner Health System is further tightening visitor access to its hospitals.
The changes are meant to protect patients, visitors, staff and the community from possible COVID-19 exposure.
The new policy affects health system facilities in Carrollton, Villa Rica and Bremen. On March 19, the health system completely restricted visitor access to Tanner Medical Center/East Alabama in Wedowee by order of Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey. The health system also implemented more rigorous visitor restrictions at Higgins General Hospital last week.
The policy fully restricts hospital visitors except in defined circumstances, including labor and delivery or NICU patients, patients with special needs, patients at end-of-life and other select patients. Even then, visitor access is significantly limited.
All visitors who are permitted must use an emergency department entrance, where they will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms and other concerns.
This comes almost a week after the health system imposed other visitor policies, restricting access through some entrances, prohibiting visitors younger than 16 and screening visitors for COVID-19 before entering the hospitals.
As the organization continues to ramp up testing options and works with its outside laboratory partners to expedite test results, more positive cases are expected.
“We have an obligation to our patients to deliver the very best care,” said Ben Camp, MD, senior vice president and chief medical officer for Tanner. “In normal times, that means encouraging and facilitating visitation. But these aren’t normal times, and the best thing we can do now for our patients, staff and the community at large is to limit the flow of people in and out of our hospitals.”
Dr. Camp urged loved ones to make use of technology to help stay in touch with loved ones, including options like Facebook Messenger, Facetime, Google Duo and other messaging technologies.
“We’re all finding innovative ways to stay in touch while practicing good social distancing techniques,” said Dr. Camp.
More details on the specifics of the policy are available online at tanner.org/ncov.