Published on November 20, 2020

Essentia Health restricting hospital visitors at St. Joseph’s Medical Center

With the significant growth of COVID-19 cases in our communities, Essentia Health-St. Joseph’s Medical Center will restrict visitors of hospitalized patients beginning Monday, Nov. 23. Like other health care systems across the state and beyond, Essentia is taking this step to keep patients and staff safe during a time of high community prevalence. Visitors will not be allowed at the hospital except in special circumstances and at the discretion of care teams.

Hospitalized patients with COVID or suspected of having COVID will not be allowed visitors except for pediatric patients, patients for whom a support person has been deemed essential, obstetric patients and patients receiving end-of-life care.

For non-COVID patients, visitors will be allowed under the following circumstances:

  • Emergency department: One adult visitor is permitted for vulnerable adults, trauma or other patients requiring communication to a health care team on their behalf. Two adult visitors are permitted for pediatric patients.
  • Pediatric units: Two adult visitors are permitted per patient.
  • Labor and delivery units: One support person — plus a certified doula (for labor and delivery only) — for each mom.
  • Surgery: One visitor is permitted for a vulnerable adult or other patient requiring communication to the health care team on their behalf.
  • Care conferences should be done through virtual methods if possible. If visitors are needed, up to two will be allowed during the conference.
  • At end of life, only two visitors at a time will be allowed. Visitors can be rotated and will be required to wait outside the facility until it is their time to see the patient. Decisions regarding any variance requested for end-of-life visitation will be made by unit leadership and a patient’s primary physician. Visitors under 18 are only allowed in end-of-life circumstances.
  • Access to faith leaders: At Essentia facilities with Essentia-employed chaplains, chaplains are available for ritual, support, prayer and assisting with virtual and phone connections with family and a patient’s clergy or religious leader. Essentia-employed chaplains are not subject to this visitor policy. A patient’s pastor or religious leader can visit COVID-19 negative patients and patients not suspected of having COVID-19 so long as the visit is not disruptive to patient care. Community clergy and religious leaders may visit COVID-19 positive and suspect patients only at the End of Life or for Compassionate Care, and these visits should be scheduled in advance.

In addition, visitors will not be allowed in cafeterias. Hospital visitors who are allowed to visit under the policy exceptions will be able to order trays of food delivered to the hospital room.

At this time, visitors are still allowed in Essentia’s clinics, but ask that clinic patients limit bringing another person with them to appointments as much as possible. Essentia understands that patients often need accompaniment to clinic appointments for transportation assistance.

Special considerations for individuals and other exceptions may exist. These exceptions will be agreed upon by a patient’s care team.

All visitors are required to remain in the patient’s room and are expected to wear a mask and eye protection at all times. Anyone who is sick or showing symptoms of COVID won’t be allowed to visit patients.

These restrictions were made in accordance with infectious-disease specialists, infection-prevention experts, nursing and physician leaders and emergency-preparedness teams. Essentia realizes the additional restrictions will present an emotional hardship, but they are necessary with record numbers of COVID infections and hospitalizations across the region.

Knowing the importance of keeping in touch, Essentia will continue to use other means for connecting patients with their loved ones, including technology.

To coordinate interviews, photos, and/or video, contact the media relations team.

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