Visitor policy promotes a safer environment at Sanford

Guidelines minimize spread of COVID-19 while also reducing feelings of isolation

doctor in white coat talks to male visitor

Staying in the hospital can be stressful, and visitors can help ease that stress. So, why has Sanford Health limited visitors?

Above all, health care providers want patients and loved ones to continue to be comforted.

Comfort in this case translates to a safer environment for Sanford Health clinics, medical centers and the communities they serve because it makes them less susceptible to the COVID-19 pandemic.

To that end, effective June 26, Sanford Health is updating its visitor policy to protect the health and safety of its patients and staff. One visitor per adult patient is allowed during visiting hours (7 a.m. – 8 p.m. daily) for all areas of hospitals and clinics except designated COVID-19 units. Pediatric and NICU patients are allowed two visitors (adult or minor). This can include parents, guardians or other support persons.

All long-term care locations are temporarily closed to all visitors until further notice to protect the health of our employees and residents who face the highest risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Please refer to our updated visitor policy.

Visitor policy serves common good

In this case, it’s a way of offering comfort by promoting safety. It applies to patients and the people who care for them. In doing so it serves the common good.

“The patients who enter our doors become family, and we will continue to look out for each other during this time,” said Allison Suttle, M.D., chief medical officer for Sanford Health.

“It is important that we all do our part to prevent this illness from spreading in our communities by practicing good hygiene and staying home if we are sick. Let’s continue to take care of each other.”

The new visitor policy follows guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Protecting those vulnerable

In March, national long-term care organizations began recommending no visitors and very limited traffic through their facilities. This was because they represent a particularly vulnerable segment of the population. All Good Samaritan Society and Sanford Health long-term care residences have adopted those guidelines.

Sanford Health followed by applying a similar philosophy to its clinics and medical centers.

“It’s another area and another group of individuals that are likely to be vulnerable,” Dr. Suttle said. “They’re already sick. Their immune systems could be compromised.”

Even if you are not sick, you could be a carrier, Dr. Suttle said. And as there are no treatments or vaccines for COVID-19, visitor restrictions and other social distancing measures are in place to help stop its spread.

This story was originally posted on March 26, 2020. It was last updated June 26, 2020, to reflect the new visitor policy.

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