HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - Not having anyone with you at the hospital can be terrifying.
COVID-19 forced hospitals around the country to put strict restrictions on visitors, but now some are being lifted. Thursday at noon, Sentara eased the restrictions on who can come into its facilities.
Chief Physician Executive of Sentara Healthcare Dr. Jordan Asher said, “The hardest thing that our staff had to do was not allow visitors.”
He said it was heartbreaking for his staff to see patients who were not allowed to be with their loved ones in the hospital.
Shay Reilly needed to be hospitalized back in April. Of her experience, she said, "That was really scary, just being alone. I'm a people person, and everyone coming in in gowns - it's just a different experience. You can't even explain it."
She praised the medical staff for making her feel so comfortable at the time and said they were wonderful.
Sentara says all non-COVID-19 patients and patients who are not under investigation for COVID-19 may have one visitor. Patients who are near death or in the NICU can have two.
They said people visiting end-of-life COVID-19 patients will be provided appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and instructed by staff on how to safely wear the PPE during their stay.
Prior to COVID-19, there were no restrictions on the number of visitors unless determined by the patient’s care team based on their individual medical needs.
“I’m very excited for all of those that really feel that they can get better when they have a loved one with them,” Asher said. “We think about the safety of what we are providing for you. We’re very focused on doing things in a safer way.”
He said he is happy to have more visitors back in the hospitals and encourages everyone to take safety precautions.
Officials said the new eased restrictions will apply to most Sentara hospitals, including all levels of care and the Emergency Department. They said certain Sentara hospitals may have additional visitor guidelines, so we recommend checking with the facility before planning a visit.
All visitors will be screened and have their temperatures taken by a no-touch device before entering the building, and will be required to wear a mask. Sentara will provide a community-made mask to visitors who do not have their own.
“Sentara is taking all necessary precautions to keep our hospitals safe and clean. You can expect all areas of our hospitals to be carefully cleaned and disinfected on an ongoing basis. All employees are also masked for your protection.”