St. Joseph’s/Candler Health System implementing new visitation rules due to COVID-19

Published: Aug. 16, 2021 at 4:34 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 16, 2021 at 4:45 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - St. Joseph’s/Candler Health System added new visitation guidelines on Monday that go into effect immediately.

Chatham County is seeing a significant increase over even our highest total of hospitalized COVID 19 patients. Right now, 283 patients sit in three local hospitals and are causing serious concerns for health systems.

St. Joseph’s/Candler Health System’s CEO says the hospital is still serving all patients, but it is taxing. They brought in more than 20 contracted staff to help and are working to open dormant spaces to add beds for patients.

He says the rate at which beds are filling up is alarming, especially as they work extra hard to discharge patients and offer more home health options to avoid filling up beds.

Another cautionary point is how many people are testing positive outside the hospital. Adding that they are seeing contractions on therapeutic drugs and oxygen that is needed to help patients.

While they sit at 159 patients today, Hinchey says anything north of 160 they will have serious discussions about how they move forward with elective surgeries.

But something that already is changing is their visitor policy.

For visitation of all hospital patients:

  • No visitors are allowed at this time.
  • Labor and Delivery patients are allowed one designated visitor for the duration of their hospital stay.
  • Pediatric patients are allowed two designated visitors per patient for the duration of their hospital stay.
  • Hospice and end of life patients may have immediate family members visit, one at a time, although visitation must be coordinated with nurse manager.
  • Surgery patients will be allowed one designated visitor for drop off and pick up for the purposes of providing discharge instructions and education. The designated visitor will be asked to leave and return when called by the surgical department.
  • Pediatric patients are allowed two designated visitors per patient, with only one designated visitor staying with the patient.
  • Emergency Room patients are allowed one designated visitor for the duration of their visit. Emergency pediatric patients are allowed two designated visitors.

For Pooler Campus, Heart and Lung, professional office buildings and outpatient and physician offices:

  • No visitors may accompany a patient with an appointment unless the patient requires assistance from a caregiver.
  • Pediatric patients who have an appointment may have two designated visitors present.

For Nancy N. and J.C. Lewis Cancer & Research Pavilion, Bluffton Campus, and all additional Oncology affiliated practices and locations:

  • Due to the health risks associated with patients undergoing cancer treatment, visitor restrictions remain in place for these locations until further notice.

CEO Paul Hinchey says the reason for the visitation changes is because guest failed to wear masks around the patients and risking the heath of others.

“So it places the nurse who is running around and has got one goal in mind which is taking care of that patient in the bed, not being the mask cop. So we don’t want to go down that rabbit hole. So unfortunately what started out with the best of intentions ended up complicating the patient and so when I heard that, that was it. Visitations closing tomorrow,” Hinchey said.

Hinchey says his concern is for his staff right now who are hanging on through this surge. And after conversations with them, he says they feel betrayed the community has not been vaccinated to help them as they show up to take care of those battling COVID-19.

He says families across our region need to start having serious kitchen table conversation about vaccination, because this increase is alarming and causing a lot of pressure.

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