As COVID cases mount, Hornell, Wellsville, Dansville hospitals tighten visitation rules

Neal Simon
The Evening Tribune

Citing an increase in community transmission of COVID-19, University of Rochester Medicine-affiliated hospitals in Hornell, Dansville and Wellsville are tightening rules for visiting patients.

The three hospitals — St. James in Hornell, Noyes Memorial in Dansville, and Jones Memorial in Wellsville — eliminated visitation for COVID-positive patients, although all three may allow exceptions for pediatric patients hospitalized with the virus and in end-of-life situations.

At the three hospitals, all visitors are screened for symptoms at entrances, and individuals who are sick or suspected of having COVID may not visit. Every visitor is required to wear a surgical mask provided by screening personnel.

Additionally, the new policies generally limit the number of designated visitors to two during a patient's stay and to only one of the two each day.

New visitation rules went into effect Tuesday at St. James, where the number of COVID-19 inpatients doubled in the preceding five days, according to Bryan O’Donovan, president and CEO of the hospital.

“It’s not where we want to be. I can tell you that much right now,” said O’Donovan, who declined to provide the total number of COVID patients currently admitted at the hospital.

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“We’ve gone months without as many inpatients as we have now with COVID. We’re getting more and more coming through the emergency department, so it’s definitely alarming.”

O’Donovan said the more restrictive visitation rules are “all about safety.”

“It’s really important that our inpatients are able to see their families,” he said. “That’s extremely important, but from a hospital, a public health perspective, we need to be restrictive because the Steuben County overall vaccination rate the last I checked was 49 percent. If you look at that, one in two people coming into the hospital may not be vaccinated. If they’re on our inpatient unit, that could simply exacerbate the spread.”

According to the New York state COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker, 47 percent of Steuben County’s total population has received at least one vaccination dose for COVID-19, while about 44 percent have completed the vaccination series.  

“We’re trying to limit the spread, obviously, not only in our hospital but through transmission to staff,” O'Donovan added.

St. James Hospital's new visitation policy

  • Visiting hours are 11 a.m. until 8 p.m., daily.
  • Each patient may designate two visitors. One designee can visit per day for up to four consecutive hours per day.
  • For adult patients with COVID-19, no visitors are permitted. There could be exceptions for certain conditions, including end-of-life situations.  
  • There are no restrictions on visiting hours for the Emergency and Surgery departments. Patients in both departments may have one support person at a time, with the support person in the family waiting room for surgery. 

New visitation policies went into effect at Noyes Memorial on Aug. 26 in response to “a rise” in COVID-19 infections in the local community, according to a hospital spokesperson.  

Noyes Memorial’s new visitation policy

  • Visiting hours are between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.
  • All visitors must be at least 18 years old.
  • Each patient may designate two visitors. One designee can visit per day for up to four hours.
  • Obstetrics will continue to allow one support person and one visitor or doula during labor, and a support person and one visitor for up to four hours after delivery. For COVID-positive patients, only one support person (no visitor or doula) is allowed.    
  • Visitation will no longer be allowed for COVID-positive patients unless they meet other criteria like end-of-life.  
  • All other visitor exceptions remain in place, and the Emergency Department, surgical areas and outpatient areas will remain as-is.​

Jones Memorial Hospital modified its patient visitation policy effective Aug. 27 in response to a “significant increase of COVID-19 cases” within Allegany County and surrounding areas, according to Connor Rittwage, the hospital’s infection prevention specialist.

Jones Memorial’s new visitation policy

  • Visiting hours are noon until 8 p.m., seven days a week.
  • All visitors must be at least 18 years old.
  • A total of two individuals may be designated to visit during the hospital stay, with one visitor permitted per day.
  • Visitation is limited to four consecutive hours per day.
  • For patients with COVID-19, no visitors unless they meet one of the other exception (e.g., pediatric patient, end-of-life).
  • For obstetrics patients in labor: two designated support persons but no visitors. If a doula is participating in the care of the patient, this individual counts as one of the two support persons. Support persons may accompany the patient through labor, delivery and the postpartum period, including recovery until discharged to home. Support persons are permitted to come and go.

UR Medicine’s Rochester hospitals began visitor restrictions on Aug. 25.  Non-COVID patients at Strong Memorial Hospital and Highland Hospital may have a total of two designated visitors, but only one visitor per day. There is no visitation for adult COVID-positive patients.

Exceptions apply, and there are different guidelines in place for pediatric patients at Golisano Children’s Hospital. Visitors should check each hospital’s website for details.  

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