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Atrium Health Navicent Updates Masking Requirements in Health Care Facilities

Steady decline in COVID-19 cases, effective vaccines prompt changes

After careful consideration and extensive review of scientific data, masks will no longer be required in most clinical spaces at Atrium Health Navicent beginning at 7 a.m. on Tuesday, March 28, 2023. There are still areas and circumstances where masking will be required.

Many factors went into making an informed decision to no longer require masks in certain areas, including:

• The widespread availability of protective vaccines.

• A steady decline in COVID-19 positive cases and hospitalizations across the Southeast U.S.

• Community habits returning to pre-pandemic levels.

Masking at Atrium Health Navicent hospitals, clinics and other facilities may still be required in certain areas where higher levels of infection prevention are needed. These may include units where cancer patients and others with low immunity are being treated, as well as emergency department waiting rooms and triage areas. It may also include rooms where highly infectious patients with a respiratory virus, such as COVID-19, are being cared for or any area or unit with an identified cluster of illness.

Patients who are experiencing symptoms of respiratory illness such as flu, RSV or COVID-19, or had a known exposure to someone with COVID-19 in the past 10 days, should wear a well-fitted mask that covers their nose and mouth. Visitors who are experiencing symptoms are asked to stay home. Patients and visitors at Atrium Health Navicent facilities may be asked to wear a mask at any time, based on the type of symptoms being experienced by the patient or circumstances specific to their patient population or practice at any given location.

Patients may also request their direct care team wear a mask if it makes them feel more comfortable.

Atrium Health Navicent’s visitation policy is used to protect patients, visitors and caregivers, and is subject to change at any time. Visitors include those who are visiting/accompanying patients. Guidelines are as follows:

• Visitation hours will be held 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

• General inpatient units at Atrium Health Navicent hospitals may have four (4) visitors daily. One (1) adult visitor/caregiver over the age of 18 years of age may stay with the patient from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. See special considerations for COVID-19 patient visitation.

• Intensive care units at Atrium Health Navicent hospitals may have two (2) visitors/caregivers at the bedside at a time. One (1) visitor may stay overnight.

• Visitors must:

o Be screened at the front entrance of the hospital.

o Be in good health (free of respiratory illness, fever cough, etc.)

o Follow safety guidance. This includes wearing masks — if warranted — staying six feet from others and performing frequent hand washing. Visitors may choose to wear additional Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), which will be made available upon request.

• Patients having surgery may have visitors with them until they are in their patient room, even if they arrive before 8 a.m. Patients under 18 may have two (2) parents or guardians visit any time of day.

• Patients at Atrium Health Navicent Rehabilitation Hospital may have no more than four (4) visitors at a time and visiting hours are 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday.

• Patients in Labor and Delivery (active labor before delivery) may have two (2) visitors in addition to a partner and birth coach.

• Patients receiving treatments for cancer are often immunocompromised and more vulnerable to infection. In this case, patients will not be allowed visitors if they are exhibiting symptoms of respiratory illness or have COVID-19 or might have COVID-19 (being tested).

Special Considerations:

• Masking will be required in emergency department waiting and triage areas.

• Special circumstances will be managed by the treating physician and nursing unit leadership.

• Patients in hospice or palliative care may have two (2) visitors at a time at the bedside and one (1) visitor overnight.

• Exceptions, as determined by the treating physician and facility leadership, may include:

o End of life circumstances

o Communication barriers

o Caregiver / decision making assistance needed

o Physical, emotional, or psychiatric concerns where a caregiver is necessary>/p>

COVID-19 Patients

Patients exhibiting symptoms of respiratory illness including influenza, respiratory syncytial virus, and COVID-19 may have visitors. Visitors must wear a mask and may wear other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including a gown, gloves, and eye protection, which will be provided upon request. The visitor must stay in the patient’s room at all times with the door closed and will utilize a designated restroom based on the patient’s location. Visitors are urged to eat prior to arrival, but to remain at least six (6) feet away from the patient before removing a mask to eat. At the conclusion of the visit, visitors must exit the facility without visiting any other location.

Other Considerations:

• Overnight visitors must stay at the patient’s bedside. If a patient needs an in-room procedure that requires the visitor to leave the room, the visitor may wait in the hallway outside the patient’s room.

• Some intensive care units lack the capacity for overnight visitors. In these units, overnight visitors are at the discretion of unit leadership.

• Some visitors arrive with patients via entrances other than the main visitor entrance (ex. surgery, emergency and heart procedures). In the event a patient who entered through any entrance other than the main visitor entrance is admitted and the visitor chooses to stay overnight, the visitor must check-in at the main entrance and receive a visitor band during visiting hours (8 a.m. to 10 p.m.). If the patient is admitted after visiting hours, the visitor may stay overnight and check-in at the main entrance during the next day’s visiting hours.

This visitation policy applies to Atrium Health Navicent locations, including:

• Atrium Health Navicent Beverly Knight Olson Children’s Hospital

• Atrium Health Navicent The Medical Center

• Atrium Health Navicent Peach

• Atrium Heath Navicent Baldwin

• Monroe County Hospital, an Atrium Health Navicent Partner

• Atrium Health Navicent Rehabilitation Hospital

• Atrium Health Navicent emergency rooms, urgent care centers, clinics and diagnostics centers

All facilities may be accessed through their main lobbies and/or emergency centers. Individuals with cough, fever, shortness of breath or other flu-like symptoms are asked to refrain from visiting. Greeters at public entrances will continue to ask basic screening questions, guide those seeking treatment to the appropriate location and assist visitors as needed.

Atrium Health Navicent recognizes that interacting with loved ones can be helpful to the healing process. Wi-Fi access is available, allowing patients to also participate in video chats and phone calls on cell phones or other mobile devices. The health of our patients and the community is the highest concern at Atrium Health Navicent.

Our policies and actions are designed to safeguard our community. We appreciate the community’s cooperation and understanding with our efforts to mitigate the threat of COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses. Atrium Health Navicent continues to encourage all patients, teammates and the community to stay up to date with all recommended COVID-19, flu and other vaccines recommended by your health care provider. Masking has been an effective measure for the last three years to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and help keep our communities healthy. Masks will still be available at Atrium Health Navicent facilities for anyone who chooses to wear one. More information regarding optional masking locations and FAQs can be found at AtriumHealth.org/Coronavirus.

Patients are asked to only visit the emergency department if they are experiencing a serious or life-threatening illness or injury. Those who need medical attention for more routine cough, fever, fatigue and other flu-like symptoms should contact their primary care provider. Other options include urgent care centers and virtual visits.

For the latest information about Atrium Health Navicent, including our visitation policy, please visit www.NavicentHealth.org.

About Atrium Health Navicent

Atrium Health Navicent is the leading provider of health care in central and south Georgia and is committed to its mission of elevating health and wellbeing through compassionate care. Atrium Health Navicent is part of Advocate Health, which is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, and is the fifth-largest nonprofit health system in the United States, created from the combination of Atrium Health and Advocate Aurora Health. Atrium Health Navicent provides high-quality, personalized care in 53 specialties at more than 50 facilities throughout the region. As part of the largest, integrated, nonprofit health system in the Southeast, it is also able to tap into some of the nation’s leading medical experts and specialists with Atrium Health, allowing it to provide the best care close to home – including advanced innovations in virtual medicine and care. Throughout its 125-year history in the community, Atrium Health Navicent has remained dedicated to enhancing health and wellness for individuals throughout the region through nationally recognized quality care, community health initiatives and collaborative partnerships. It is also one of the leading teaching hospitals in the region, helping to ensure viability for rural health care for the next generation. For more information, please visit www.NavicentHealth.org.

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