Valley Health lets patients have more visitors as COVID declines

Valley Health’s patient visitation guidelines changed to Level Yellow on Monday, March 14, because of declines in COVID and flu cases in the region.

Since late November, Valley Health hospitals and outpatient locations have operated at the more restrictive Level Red as a precaution to protect patients, families and caregivers from surging illness and community positivity, said hospital officials.

Under Level Yellow visitation, two Care Partners may now stay at the bedside of adult patients in medical-surgical and critical care units. (If a patient has confirmed or suspected COVID, only one Care Partner may visit at a time.)

In Labor & Delivery, a third person may be present for the baby’s delivery. There is no social visitation; the only visitors must be designated Care Partners and wear a photo badge indicating the patient room number they are visiting. Exceptions are granted for end of life and other special circumstances.

Consistent with government guidelines for healthcare facilities, universal masking is still required for staff and visitors in all patient care areas.

“We are relieved to be on the other side of the most dramatic surge in COVID hospitalizations since the virus first presented in the Shenandoah Valley two years ago,” said Nicolas Restrepo, MD, Valley Health Quality and Patient Safety Officer. “It’s been a challenging time, but I’m incredibly proud of how our team has continued to learn, adapt and work together to provide excellent, compassionate and safe care for all our patients.”

Last week, Valley Health was caring for 11 COVID-19 patients, in stark contrast to a mid-January peak census of 273 COVID patients at the system’s six hospitals.

The community positivity rate in Virginia’s Lord Fairfax Health District has dropped to 8.2%, and in Hampshire, Morgan, Jefferson and Berkeley counties in West Virginia is now 4.7% – 6.4%.

“In our decision making, we have tried to balance our trust in the science and our own community data with the very real needs of our patients and families during an uncertain time,” Restrepo explained. “We are grateful for the extra efforts of our caregivers to help bridge the gap when family members could not be as present with their loved ones.”

“I urge everyone to remain vigilant and remember that vaccination and boosters are very effective at protecting against COVID and preventing severe symptoms if a breakthrough case should occur,” Restrepo said. “We continue to provide COVID care as needed, but are looking forward, focusing on helping our community catch up on missed health screenings, elective procedures, and other preventive and therapeutic priorities.”

Each hospital and outpatient facility across Valley Health will follow the Level Yellow parameters.

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