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Some health care systems restricting visitors amid COVID-19 surge in St. Louis

BJC Healthcare and SSM Health are restricting the number of visitors patients can have. It comes as the number of COVID cases in the St. Louis area surges.

ST. LOUIS — BJC Healthcare and SSM Health both announced Wednesday they are restricting visitors as COVID cases continue to surge in the St. Louis area.

Starting Monday, Jan. 3 patients at BJC will be allowed to have one designated visitor in inpatient units. Two visitors will be allowed for pediatric, obstetrics and end-of-life patients.

"The decision to reduce visitors was not made lightly, and reflects the serious challenge we face in mitigating the virus spread and maintaining safety throughout this current surge," said a statement from BJC.

Visitors won't be allowed if they are showing signs of symptoms of illness, have had recent contact with someone who has COVID, or if they tested positive for COVID in the last two weeks, the release from BJC said. They also have to comply with the masking policy.

You'll find more information on BJC's visitor policy by clicking here.

SSM Health has now updated its visitor policy. One support person is allowed at a time. That applies to inpatient, outpatient surgical procedures, emergency department and clinical appointments.

Two designated visitors are allowed for those in the Family Birthplace. And two parents or guardians are allowed for pediatric patients.

"We understand these restrictions will be difficult for many, but we must make decisions rooted in safeguarding our patients, visitors, caregivers and the community at large," said a statement from SSM. "We appreciate the public’s cooperation and understanding as we focus on the well-being of our employees and patients in our care."

All guests at SSM will also have to follow the health guidelines, including:

  • Wearing approved face coverings, even when in the patient room.
  • All individuals must be screened for symptoms upon arrival.
  • Everyone must wash their hands or use hand sanitizer upon entering and leaving a patient’s room.
  • All guests will receive a badge to properly identify them while inside our buildings.

The decision comes as COVID-19 hospitalizations in the St. Louis area surpass the delta surge of this summer.

Both SSM and BJC are part of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force. On Wednesday, data released by the task force showed 718 COVID-19 patients in task force hospitals, the highest number since January. The task force has reported a seven-day average of eight COVID-19 deaths per day for much of the last month.

"We've all made this difficult decision to restrict visitors to our hospitals once again," task force leader Dr. Alex Garza said. 

Garza urged people to find non-emergency medical centers for COVID testing.

"Our ask is don't come to the ER to get tested for COVID, because we're just seeing large volumes of patients showing up merely for testing and it's really overcrowding those departments," Garza said.

Dr. Garza also said to call the hospital ahead of time to check their visitation policies.

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