ST. ALBANS – The Northwestern Medical Center (NMC) is further restricting visitor access to the hospital in order to slow the possible spread of COVID-19, now forbidding access to most visitors “until further notice.”
In a new set of guidelines issued Tuesday, NMC said it would no longer allow visitors to the St. Albans hospital save for a few limited exceptions where a patient is giving birth or needs support, and for end-of-life visitations.
In most cases where a visitor is allowed, patients will only be allowed to have a single visitor over the age of 18 who will be screened upon entry to the hospital and confined to the patient’s room while visiting.
Children are allowed either one parent or support person for pediatric visits, under the hospital’s new temporary guidelines.
For end-of-life scenarios, visitation will be managed by the care team, according to the hospital.
“We know family members and loved ones play a key role in supporting and comforting those who are sick and ill,” the hospital wrote. “However, as we seek to prevent the spread of COVID-19, this temporary change is necessary.”
For those looking to reach an inpatient in NMC’s care by telephone, the hospital asks that they call (802) 524-5911.
The hospital’s updated visitation policy comes days after NMC announced its first staff member diagnosed with COVID-19 and its first patient dying of complications related to COVID-19.
COVID-19, the disease caused by a novel strain of coronavirus now spreading through Vermont and much of the U.S., is highly contagious, according to health experts, leading to gubernatorial orders like those issued by Gov. Phil Scott to limit in-person interactions between people.
NMC first announced visitation restrictions early last month in anticipation of COVID-19’s arrival to Vermont and, within the following weeks, announced it was further restricting which patients would be admitted to urgent care at the hospital’s St. Albans campus.
As of late March, only those showing possible COVID-19 symptoms would be allowed at the St. Albans hospital’s urgent care clinic, with all other urgent care needs directed to NMC’s urgent care office in Georgia.
According to the Vermont health department, there were 15 known cases of COVID-19 identified in Franklin County as of Wednesday afternoon.
A detailed update of the hospital’s visitation policy is available at https://www.northwesternmedicalcenter.org/coronavirus/nmcs-updated-visitation-policy/.
Updated Wednesday, 2:03 p.m. to reflect the most recent statistics from the Vermont Dept. of Health.