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EAMC restricting visitation due to increase in COVID-19 patients and community spread

Updated: Dec. 8, 2020 at 6:48 PM EST
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OPELIKA, Ala. (WTVM) - Hospitalizations at the East Alabama Medical Center (EAMC) are nearing previous record numbers set in the summer.

These numbers, as well as the community spread officials are seeing in Lee County, are prompting hospital officials to switch to a red visitation level.

As of Tuesday, there were 49 COVID-19 patients at EAMC’s two campuses. With the number of hospitalizations consistently hovering above 40 for a while, EAMC officials decided to change the visitation rules for the hospital.

“[We’re] just tightening up just a little bit,” said Brooke Bailey, the director of infection prevention at EAMC said. “[We’re] giving specified amounts of time and limiting it to a certain number of people.”

According to officials, these new guidelines mean non-COVID-19 patients will be allowed only one visitor at a time, with a maximum of two visitors per day.

These visitors can come between 10 a.m. and noon, as well as 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.

“The guidelines are not put in hastily,” Bailey said. “We have to outweigh the risks and the benefits. Family and visitors are really vital for the emotional and physical well being of our patients, but also for our staff as well.”

Some patients, like those who are at the hospital for outpatient surgeries or tests and procedures, are not allowed any visitors unless special assistance is needed.

“[We] just make sure we’re protecting not only our patients, but also those who are coming to see our patients,” Bailey said.

East Alabama residents said these restrictions must be difficult for families, but they understand the reason behind them.

“I would definitely feel for whoever is in there,” Jashon McGhee said.

Avanelle Elmore agreed.

“I think I would Facetime them or something like that,” she added.

Officials said all visitors will be screened before entry and must wear a mask the entire time they’re at the hospital. Patients are limited to two visitors per day but only one at a time.

Hospital officials suggest looking at their detailed guide to the visitation levels.

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