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Visitor restrictions relaxed at St. Louis area hospitals

Visitor restrictions relaxed at St. Louis area hospitals

Coronavirus Testing

Site personnel test people in their cars at a BJC HealthCare pre-registration coronavirus testing site in St. Louis on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. In order to get tested patients must receive a referral from a healthcare provider after pre-screening. Photo by Colter Peterson,

ST. LOUIS — The region's four largest health systems have all rolled back visitor restrictions enacted during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

BJC HealthCare, Mercy, St. Luke's Hospital and SSM Health are now allowing one to two visitors per patient in most cases. Visitors of patients with COVID-19, or with pending COVID-19 tests, are still almost entirely restricted.

The systems had mostly banned visitors, beginning in March, to limit the spread of the virus.

"We recognize that it was a burden for our patients," said Dr. Hilary Babcock, director of infection prevention at BJC.

BJC relaxed its visitor policy Monday. One visitor will be allowed for patients in surgical, outpatient and inpatient areas. Some exceptions will be made, to allow two visitors, in inpatient obstetrics, pediatrics, and end-of-life situations.

Babcock said BJC made the decision based largely on the rolling average of new cases, and could reinstate restrictions if needed.

BJC is requiring masks inside its facilities, and will provide one if necessary. Visitation hours remain limited, and patients are still encouraged to come alone when possible.

All four systems require visitors to wear masks or face coverings.

St. Luke's Hospital reopened visitation in its facilities on June 17. One visitor is allowed for patients in emergency departments, urgent care centers, outpatient areas and same-day surgeries. Two visitors are allowed for patients admitted for labor and delivery, nursery, and pediatrics. Patients in other inpatient areas are allowed one visitor per day. Visitors are still restricted for patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, with exceptions for end-of-life situations.

Chesterfield-based Mercy announced on June 21 that it would allow one visitor for hospitalized patients, and for patients in the emergency room and outpatient care areas. Two visitors are allowed for hospitalized pediatric patients, and for patients giving birth.

As of Friday, SSM allows one visitor per day for patients in the emergency department, inpatient settings, outpatient surgical procedures, and clinical appointments. Pediatric patients are allowed one to two visitors, depending on the department, and obstetrics patients are allowed two visitors. Patients in end-of-life situations, including those with COVID-19, are allowed two visitors.

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