Due to skyrocketing cases of COVID-19, Providence St. Mary Medical Center is tightening visitor restrictions to one visitor per patient beginning Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022.
The visitor must remain the same individual throughout the patient’s stay and cannot rotate. The visitor may come once in a 24-hour period and will not be able to repeatedly come and go within the same day.
The visitor restrictions are necessary for the safety of patients, visitors and caregivers as the extraordinarily contagious Omicron surges. It is estimated that more than one out of 10 people now have COVID, and many are unaware they have and are spreading the disease. More than half of all COVID tests in Walla Walla are now coming back positive, and statewide that figure is approaching 70 percent.
Exceptions to the one-visitor-per-stay rule are:
- In the Birthing Center, two support people of the mother’s choosing are permitted throughout labor and delivery. Afterwards, one of those same individuals may remain for recovery. The support people must remain the same person throughout the stay.
- Patients under the age of 18 may have two support people, with one of them required to be a parent or guardian legally able to make decisions. They cannot rotate.
- Patients receiving end of life care (defined as a provider believes they may pass within the next 12 to 24 hours) may have two visitors. The visitors cannot rotate, and must remain the same two people.
- No visitors are allowed in COVID positive or isolation rooms.
- In addition to the visitors above, patients may have visits from clergy.
All visitors are required to wear surgical masks fully covering their nose and mouth at all times while in the hospital, including while in the patient room. If the visitor does not have a surgical mask, one will be provided. Bandanas, gaiters and cloth masks have been proven not to provide sufficient protection, so in the interest of keeping everyone safe these forms of face coverings are not acceptable.
Providence St. Mary asks patients and their families to consider communication through phone calls and video chats as their primary means of communication. The hospital staff has iPads on hand and can help set this up upon request for patients who don’t already have the capability on their personal devices.