COLUMBIA — As COVID-19 numbers continue to rise in the area, Boone Health is putting additional measures in place to protect patients, employees and providers.
Boone Hospital Center patients will only be allowed one visitor a day starting Thursday. Emergency department patients and patients visiting Boone Medical Group clinics will be allowed one visitor. Patients who are COVID-19 positive will still not be allowed any visitors.
Below is a list of situations where patients would be allowed two visitors:
- Nursery and Neonatal Intensive Care patients
- Pediatric patients on inpatient units
- Patients at the end of life will be allowed 2 visitors at a time. Up to 4 different people can take turns visiting each day, as long as no more than 2 visitors are in the hospital at the same time. Alternating visitors cannot wait in the facility.
Boone Health's Chief Medical Officer Robin Blount said that the community has now reached a threshold where stricter visitation policies in healthcare settings are needed, regardless of vaccination status.
"No vaccine is 100%," Blount said. "And while they are extremely effective, it is possible to have COVID and have been vaccinated and you could potentially put somebody at risk if you aren't aware."
Blount said that Boone Health staff began informing patients that were already in the hospital several days ago that this change was going to happen. Although she recognized that disappointment from some patients is likely, Blount said that returning to stricter visitation guidelines is the right thing to do.
"We want to do what's best for our patients and our staff. We know how important visitors are," Blount said. "But we also know that's why when we see things improve, we'll make the change back."
While many loved ones may not currently be able to visit Boone Health patients, Blount said that staff members make virtual calls over FaceTime and Zoom a priority.
"We make every effort certainly, if somebody is not available," Blount said. "We need to make sure that people know what the doctors are thinking and we need to make sure that their questions are answered."
As a doctor who has been working throughout the pandemic, Blount said that the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases throughout the state and in the community has been a difficult experience.
"Frankly, it's very, very frustrating," Blount said. "We've all worked very hard for more than a year. And we all saw this vaccine as something that was really going to make a difference. And it has, but we still need to get the rest of those people convinced to get vaccinated."
Blount said that about 90% or more of the people that are currently being admitted to Boone Health with COVID-19 are unvaccinated.
Testing positive for COVID-19 after being vaccinated is still possible, but Blount said that the hospitalization trends at Boone Health show that those who are vaccinated are very well protected. For this reason, she urged those who are unvaccinated to take the step that will better protect them.
"We're here to take care of you. We will take care of you. But this is very preventable. Please get vaccinated." Blount said.
Boone Health’s Incident Command Center will continue to monitor data trends and make adjustments to policies accordingly.
More information on the Boone Health visitor policy can be found on their website or in the image below.