Hospitals in the Greater Baton Rouge area have announced changes to their visitation policies in response to the state’s fourth surge of COVID-19.
The latest to make changes was Woman’s Hospital, which said its new policies would go into effect at 5 a.m. Tuesday, July 20.
Under the new policy, visitors will be limited to two adult support persons in labor and delivery and the newborn intensive care unit (NICU). Only one visitor will be allowed in the mother and baby high risk unit, surgery, oncology, adult intensive care unit and outpatient clinics.
One support person will be allowed at all times for surgery patients and for outpatient appointments.
Additionally, all support persons must be 18 years of age or older, and they will be required to wear a mask. Patients are asked to contact their physician’s office for policies about visitation at doctor visits.
On Tuesday, North Oaks Health System announced its own changes, effective July 20.
Hospitalized patients, who are not COVID-19 positive at North Oaks Medical Center and North Oaks Rehabilitation Hospital, will be allowed to have one visitor/support person at a time between the hours of 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. Visitors may swap out, but visitors will not be allowed to wait in our lobbies.
The one visitor/support person limit applies to emergency room, clinic and outpatient diagnostic patients as long as the patient is not COVID-19 positive. The exception is pediatric patients, who may have both parents visit/accompany them at the same time.
Visitors will be screened at the main entrance of the facility and required to stay in the patient’s room at all times.
COVID-19 patients, who are not receiving aerosolizing procedures or treatments, may have one visitor per day for one hour a day. Exceptions will be made in end-of-life situations. Visitors will be required to dress out in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
Non-COVID-19 positive laboring mothers will be allowed to have two support people present. Postpartum, one support person will be permitted with swapping allowed, but visitors will not be allowed to wait in North Oaks lobbies.
For laboring mothers who are COVID-19 positive, one designated support person will be allowed for the duration with no swapping allowed.
Other area hospital systems had already announced similar changes in the visitation policies as the state has seen a surge in new COVID-19 cases, percent positivity, and hospitalizations.
Last weekend, Our Lady of the Lake updated its policy and is now limiting visitors to COVID-19 patients to one person for one hour per day, except in end-of-life situations where extended times of visitation may be coordinated.
For non-COVID-19 patients, there is a one-visitor limit, and that visitor must be at least 18 years old. The visitor is allowed to remain at the bedside throughout the patient’s hospital stay.
Masks are required, and visitors will be screened with a temperature check and questionnaire. They should either be the patient’s spouse or a close relative and must remain bedside.
Visiting hours are from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., though visitors to non-COVID-19 patients are allowed to stay overnight.
The changes at Our Lady of the Lake went into effect at 8 p.m. on Sunday, July 18.
At Baton Rouge General, the updated visitation policy allows one visitor per patient on most nursing units, including labor and delivery and the emergency room. Designated visiting hours in the ICU and behavioral health unit will remain the same, with one visitor per patient.
Overnight visitors will not be allowed in the ICU.
For surgery patients, one visitor will be allowed in the surgery waiting area.
Visiting hours at Baton Rouge General, which put the changes in effect on Sunday, are 8 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Last week, Dr. Catherine O’Neal, chief medical officer of Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, made an emotional plea to the state in an attempt to spur more COVID-19 vaccinations.
“We only have two choices: We are either going to get vaccinated and end the pandemic or we’re going to accept death in this surge and another surge and possibly another variant,” she said. “That’s it.”