As the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients at East Alabama Medical Center and EAMC-Lanier continues to drop sharply, officials at East Alabama Health are lowering the visitation restriction level from red to yellow starting on Monday.
Under the yellow visitation level, immediate family members or “support persons” will be allowed to visit the hospital from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted, with quiet time from 2-4 p.m. No visitors under the age of 16 are allowed. Clergy will be granted visitation at the request of the patient.
The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations dropped to 29 on Friday at East Alabama Medical Center and EAMC-Lanier in Valley, the lowest since Aug. 4, and the number of COVID patients on ventilators dropped to 10, the lowest since Aug. 19.
COVID hospitalizations have dropped nearly 70% since reaching a pandemic high of 93 on Sept. 3, and COVID patients on ventilators have dropped more than 60% since reaching a pandemic high of 26 on Sept. 9.
In some cases, the new visitation level will allow the number of visitors to increase from one to two per day, while areas that did not allow visitation at all while in red level will now allow for one visitor under the less-restrictive yellow level.
John Atkinson, East Alabama Health spokesman, said the hospital expects to remain in the yellow visitation level “for the foreseeable future.”
“While we do have concerns about the upcoming holidays because of the spike that occurred after the holidays last year,” he said, “the Delta variant that caused the recent surge seems to be weakening even though it is still the dominant strain in the U.S.”
Hospital officials continue to strongly encourage people to get vaccinated.
Atkinson said that Dr. Ricardo Maldonado, the hospital’s infectious disease specialist, has noted that Thanksgiving is about six weeks away, which is roughly the amount of time it takes to get fully vaccinated from the day of the first dose.
“With multiple generations gathering on Thanksgiving and other holidays soon thereafter,” Atkinson said, “we need people to speak with their personal care physician and re-consider being vaccinated.
“The risks, discomfort and general upheaval caused by being infected with COVID far outweigh the rare risks associated with vaccination.”
More visitation details
Here’s a closer look at the new visitation level:
In hospitalized inpatient units, two visitors will be allowed at a time once the patient has settled into his or her room, and two total visitors are allowed per day.
There are different guidelines for other sections. For example, in the emergency department, a visitor may accompany the patient into the lobby, and one visitor is allowed per patient, or two parents or guardians with a pediatric patient.
For outpatient surgery or tests and procedures, one visitor is allowed per patient as space permits.
For inpatient surgery, one visitor is permitted in the procedural area and waiting room as space permits, and then two visitors at a time are permitted into the nursing unit.
For labor and delivery, one support person and one visitor is allowed, and for pediatrics, two parents or guardians are allowed.
In psychiatry, one visitor is allowed as authorized by the care team.
For critical care and the intensive care unit, and also for COVID-19 patients, visitation guidelines are discussed with family or the support person upon admission.