St. Luke’s University Health Network has updated its hospital visitor policy in response to a dramatic, ongoing surge in Covid-19 cases caused by patients who contracted the virus after refusing to be vaccinated.
Currently St. Luke’s is treating approximately 220 Covid-19 inpatients across its 14 campuses – virtually the same number the Network had in its care at this time last year before peaking in late December/early January. More than 80 percent of current Covid inpatients are unvaccinated.
“The current surge, largely driven by the unvaccinated population, is placing an enormous burden on our region’s health care system,” said Jeffrey Jahre, MD, St. Luke’s Vice President of Medical & Academic Affairs and Section Chief Emeritus of Infectious Diseases. “Unvaccinated Covid patients are filling up hospital beds and exhausting medical staff and limited resources.
“If Pennsylvania moves to restrict elective procedures, it will be due to the strain placed on hospitals by Covid patients who contracted the disease after refusing to be vaccinated,” Jahre said. “Sadly, the current surge was avoidable. It is being driven by people who chose not to be vaccinated. Our statistics tell the story.”
Under St. Luke’s updated visitor policy, the Network will allow for up to two visitors per patient for the duration of the hospitalization at all of its hospital locations with the following restrictions:*
- We highly recommend that all visitors be vaccinated against COVID-19.
- Visiting hours are between 12:00 pm and 8:00 pm for up to two visitors aged 12 and older.
- Masks are to be worn (covering your nose and mouth) along with maintaining a social distance for the duration of the visit.
- Eating/drinking by visitors should be limited to cafeterias, as available. Visitors may not eat/drink while in patient rooms or waiting areas as this requires mask removal.
- Visitors must be in good health and may be subject to a health screening.
- Visitation for COVID-19 positive patients is prohibited except for those nearing end of life.
- For patients with cognitive or intellectual disabilities one support person may remain with the patient.
Specialty Specific Guidelines:
- Two parents or guardians or parent and assigned support person visitation of a child on the inpatient pediatric unit, pediatric ICU or neonatal ICU may occur at any time.
- Two visitors plus one certified doula (if discussed and approved by OB provider).
- Visiting hours per the unit policy. Policies will be reviewed with patient and family at time of admission.
- Siblings are allowed to visit per the unit policy.
- Behavioral Health
- No visitors per specialty policy.
- Skilled Nursing
- 100% Visitor screening.
- To ensure social distancing - Limit to two visitors at a time.
- End of Life
- Visitation can occur at any time, but it is preferred if the following times are avoided:
6:45 am - 7:15 am and 6:45 pm - 7:15 pm.
- Visitors may not congregate in common or waiting room areas while waiting to visit.
- Visitors are NOT permitted in our infusion centers or radiation therapy areas.
- Same Day Surgeries
- One visitor for patients undergoing same-day surgeries and procedures.
- Emergency Department
- One visitor per patient in the Emergency Department.
St. Luke’s understands its visitor policy might present difficulties for some patients, family members and friends, and we are sympathetic to those concerns. At the same time, we must be responsible to the communities we serve and do what’s best to protect everyone. We urge those who might be impacted to please cooperate with our physicians, nurses and staff as they help our organizations fight COVID-19.
Visit https://www.slhn.org/covid-19 for additional details and updates.
* Policies/guidelines may vary at St. Luke’s Warren Campus to comply with New Jersey directives.