Hospitals tighten visitation rules as coronavirus total hits 30

DOVER — The state announced four more coronavirus cases Thursday, bringing the official total to 30.

Those cases involve four people from Kent County and three from Sussex County. The remainder are from New Castle. The individuals range in age from 14 to 80.

The Division of Public Health said Wednesday one of the Kent County residents is critically ill, a status that was the same Thursday afternoon.

Two other people remain hospitalized.

Health care systems have made drastic changes because of the virus, with Bayhealth announcing new visitor restrictions Thursday.

Its Kent and Sussex campuses will not take any visitors, with exceptions on a case-by-case basis for laboring mothers, neonatal intensive care patients, pediatric patients, end-of-life patients and individuals undergoing urgent procedures or surgeries. Bayhealth Medical Group practices, Bayhealth Emergency Center in Smyrna, Bayhealth Cancer Centers and Bayhealth Outpatient Centers will only allow visitors if the patient requires assistance.

Beebe Healthcare on Wednesday said it would limit patients to one essential visitor. That visitor will be screened upon arrival to the hospital and may not be able to enter if deemed potentially infectious.

Children 16 and under will not be allowed to visit.

For patients admitted to Beebe’s Margaret H. Rollin’s Lewes Campus hospital, visitation will be permitted between 10 and 6. Only the one essential visitor will be allowed in the building for each patient.

Peninsula Regional Health System has suspended all inpatient visitation beginning today at both Peninsula Regional Medical Center in Salisbury and Nanticoke Memorial Hospital in Seaford. Exceptions will be considered for specific situations, including end of life.

Two parents or caregivers of pediatric patients will be permitted as long as neither is symptomatic.

In Labor & Delivery, two visitors, counting the professional support person or postpartum helper, will be allowed. One visitor will be allowed in the surgery waiting area per patient.

ChristianaCare said Thursday it is putting new visitation rules in place as part of the effort to halt the spread of the virus.

No visitors are allowed to hospitals, outpatient services and the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute. Exceptions exist for patients in palliative care or hospice and laboring mothers, who are allowed one visitor each.

Additionally, one support person is permitted for patients in the emergency department or outpatient services and a single visitor is allowed for NICU and pediatric patients.

Hospital visiting hours are 8 to 8, and all visitors to the hospital will be screened for coronavirus risk before they are allowed to enter.

Hospital visitors must be age 16 or older, and ChristianaCare recommends older individuals or people who are especially vulnerable to illness refrain from coming.

Individuals with loved ones in a hospital are urged to consider alternative ways of communicating, such as video and phone chats.

People who are experiencing flu-like symptoms such as a fever and coughing should not come to the hospital or outpatient practices.

To practice social distancing, visitors should not gather in the cafeteria or waiting areas.

Because of the virus and limiting the spread of infection, “social distancing” is a widely urged practice and individuals should take steps to avoiding large gatherings and staying six feet away from others. Using good hygiene practices is a priority, especially for people age 60 or older or those with serious underlying health conditions.

“We’d love to say it’s just for a few days, but this may be a way we need to adapt to living our lives for a while,” DPH Director Karyl Rattay said Wednesday. “It’s really important that we do everything we can to listen to what is advised. We’ve got to heed this call to action.”

Anyone who is sick, especially with shortness of breath or a fever and coughing, should stay home and contact his or her primary care provider. Individuals should not rush to the emergency room or an urgent care center.

COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, does not have a vaccine yet. Most people recover with rest and hydration, although illness can be severe in a segment of the population.

Testing for coronavirus disease is not recommended for people who do not have any symptoms of illness due to a shortage of supplies, officials have said.

Individuals awaiting test results should wait to hear back from their medical provider.

The state announced its first case on March 11. More than 240,000 cases have been reported globally, with more than 10,000 in the United States.

Delawareans with general questions about COVID-19 or their exposure risk can call DPH at 1-866-408-1899 (711 for individuals who are hearing impaired) from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday or email DPHCall@delaware.gov.

For more information, visit de.gov/coronavirus.


Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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