LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (News release) – CHI St. Vincent announced new guidelines for hospital visitors and has paused volunteer programs across the Arkansas health system as additional precautions as it continues to monitor new developments related to coronavirus COVID-19 in the state and across the country. Effective immediately, visitors will be limited to two (2) immediate family visitors per hospitalized patient, per day. The new visitor guidelines extend beyond tighter visitation restrictions already in place due to the seasonal flu outbreak and are intended to limit the potential spread of the virus to vulnerable populations.
“The health and safety of our patients, employees, other visitors and the communities we serve are our top priorities as we continue to monitor this rapidly changing situation,” said CHI St. Vincent Chief Medical Officer Dr. Douglas Ross. “With insight from our sister CommonSpirit Health hospitals in other states experiencing outbreaks of COVID-19, we decided to make these changes out of an abundance of caution.”
The precautions include suspending volunteer programs across the CHI St. Vincent system until further notice to help limit potential exposure to the virus. Hospital administrators have reassigned staff to help cover important services provided by those volunteers to ensure there is no reduction in the quality of care our patients receive. CHI St. Vincent has also temporarily cancelled programs at its two senior centers in Hot Springs to limit the risk of transmission. The Meals on Wheels program will continue as scheduled.
“The community should know that our hospitals and healthcare professionals are closely monitoring all developments with COVID-19 and are prepared to identify, immediately isolate and treat any potentially infected patient who seeks our care,” said CHI St. Vincent Infirmary Chief Medical Officer Dr. Gerry Jones. “We have surge capacity policies and training in place as well as a secure supply of equipment to effectively provide care while also protecting our caregivers as they screen and treat any symptomatic patients.”
Additionally, CHI St. Vincent advises patients to avoid emergency rooms unless symptoms are severe, such as high fever, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. Patients should contact their primary health care provider by phone first if they experience symptoms like cough, low-grade fever or other respiratory issues. CHI St. Vincent continues to work with public health departments, local governments and CommonSpirit Health on coordinated responses and additional precautions related to the potential spread of COVID-19.