Shelby Baptist shares new visitor guidelines amid COVID-19 outbreak

Shelby Baptist Medical Center has new visitor guidelines amid the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic that has caused schools, daycares, businesses and other organizations to limit its hours or temporarily close its doors to the public.

On Monday, March 16, Laura Clark, Shelby Baptist Medical Center’s public relations manager, released a statement assuring the public that the hospital is taking necessary precautions to protect patients and employees.

“Shelby Baptist Medical Center is monitoring information from federal, state and local public health agencies for current information on the coronavirus,” the release states. “Our hospital has taken the appropriate steps, and we have trained professionals and the necessary equipment to react accordingly.

“As with any communicable disease, as our patients enter the hospital in areas such as emergency department or registration, hospital staff are questioning all of their recent travel and detailing symptoms. We evaluate relevant symptom criteria and implement contact airborne isolation, if required, without delay. Our clinical teams are in constant review of infection prevention processes and update patient screenings as recommended by the CDC.”

The hospital has also announced new visitor guidelines the public will be required to adhere to.

General visitation restrictions
– Hospital visitors must enter at one of these locations: Emergency Department, first floor main entrance (from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.), second floor fountain/admitting area or third floor catwalk south parking deck (from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m.).
– The women’s center entrance is only for OBGYN patients/families.
-Visitors will be screened at the four above-mentioned entrances.
– Visitors are limited to one per patient.
-No one under the age of 18 is permitted to visit.
-Do not visit if you have flu-like symptoms and/or cough, fever, and/or shortness of breath, runny nose/nasal congestion or sore throat.
– Visitors are required to sanitize their hands when entering the clinics or hospital and entering or exiting patient rooms. Visitors should continue to wash hands frequently during a prolonged visit.

Women’s Center visitation restrictions
-Neonatal Intensive Care Unit visitation is limited to the mother and father/support person. No siblings or other visitors are allowed.
-Labor and Delivery, Mother/Baby and Women’s Surgery visitation is limited to father/support person.
-All visitors to the Women’s Center will receive an armband to be checked prior to admission to the unit, check in at the second-floor desk of the Women’s Center and perform hand hygiene upon entering the unit and prior to any contact with mothers and babies.

Behavioral Health visitation restrictions:
-Adult Health Unit visitation will be Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6-7:30 p.m.
-Senior Care Unit visitation will be Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:30-4 p.m.

Operations have been suspended at the Outtakes coffee shop, the gift shop and cardiac rehab.

All U.S. hospitals should be prepared for the possible arrival of patients with COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There should be a process for rapidly identifying and isolating patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, protocol for moving patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 within the facility, infection prevention and control policies, training for healthcare personnel, as well as environmental cleaning measures among other things.

The CDC also provides guidance for healthcare professionals on evaluating persons under investigation, clinical care, resources for healthcare supply of personal protective equipment and implementing home care for people not requiring hospitalization.

The guidelines do not describe mandatory requirements or standards; rather, it highlights important areas for hospitals to review in preparation for potential arrivals of COVID-19 patients.

Enhanced safety measures have also been initiated at other health care facilities throughout the county. American Family Care Alabaster nurse Kenesha Hopson said nurses at the facility are required to wear personal protection equipment during interactions with all patients.

Personal protection equipment refers to a gown, mask, goggles/face shield and gloves. Hopson said nurses are instructed to change into new personal protection equipment after seeing each patient. Those who come into the facility with flu-like symptoms will be tested for the flu. If the flu test comes back negative, the patient will be tested for COVID-19. However, Hopson said the facility has a limited number of COVID-19 tests available.

Dr. Payson Daugherty, the main physician at Chelsea Urgent Care, said steps have been taken to help ensure the safety of patients and health care professionals.

“We’ve been identifying people who may be at risk and giving them precautions to take at home,” Daughterty said. “We’re also encouraging high risk people to stay home as much as possible.”

High risk people include the elderly and those with chronic pre-existing medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes and lung disease.

Daugherty said hand sanitizer is available throughout the office and the facility is also making an effort to reduce the length of time patients sit in the waiting room. Those who have a bad cough or appear to be contagious are given the option to wait in their vehicles for staff to call them when it’s their turn to be seen.

As the need arises, the CDC may change or adjust its recommendations for hospitals and other health care professionals and facilities.

With the COVID-19 pandemic being a fluid situation, Shelby Baptist’s new visitation guidelines may be changed. Those planning to visit the hospital should always check the hospital’s website prior to visiting for the most up-to-date information on visitor guidelines. The website is ShelbyBaptistMedicalCenter.com.