Panama City hospitals tighten visiting restrictions as COVID-19 cases rise

·3 min read

PANAMA CITY — Panama City's two hospitals have imposed stricter visitation rules in the face of spiking COVID-19 cases in the area.

Both Ascension Sacred Heart Bay and Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center have tightened limits on visitors in the last two weeks. Over that time period, new COVID-19 cases in Bay County have skyrocketed — with a report of 1,482 new cases just last week.

In a Monday press release, Ascension Sacred Heart announced more visitation restrictions at its Panama City hospital, along with its facilities in Miramar Beach and Port St. Joe.

“Based on the increasing levels of COVID-19 in our hospitals and our communities, Ascension Florida and Gulf Coast is making changes to its visitation policies,” the press release states.

Recently: Bay County sees more than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases in a week for first time since summer

More: Bay County schools to keep existing COVID-19 safety protocols for new year as cases rise

Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center has recently tightened its visitor restrictions in response to rising COVID-19 cases in Bay County.
Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center has recently tightened its visitor restrictions in response to rising COVID-19 cases in Bay County.

Those updated restrictions include:

  • No visitors under the age of 12 (unless extenuating circumstances exist)

  • Limit to two adult visitors per day for all non-COVID patients in the procedural, imaging, observation and inpatient areas

  • Limit to two adult visitors for emergency room patients.

  • For pediatric patients, limit to two parents or guardians. Visitors may not exchange with other individuals during the emergency department or outpatient/observation stay evaluation.

  • Limit to one adult visitor per hospitalization for all COVID positive patients. Visitors may not exchange with other individuals during the hospitalization.

The press release states all three Ascension hospitals had seen a steady increase in COVID-19 patients in recent weeks.

As of Friday, the hospitals had a total of 30 patients hospitalized with COVID-19. A week earlier, there were 21 COVID-19 patients in the three hospitals.

Bishop William Wack of the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee leads a prayer Sept. 2, 2020, at Ascension Sacred Heart Bay. The hospital has tightened visitation restrictions in the face of rising COVID-19 cases in Bay County.
Bishop William Wack of the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee leads a prayer Sept. 2, 2020, at Ascension Sacred Heart Bay. The hospital has tightened visitation restrictions in the face of rising COVID-19 cases in Bay County.

Meanwhile, Gulf Coast Regional updated its visitation policy Dec. 29, soon after the latest COVID-19 surge had begun.

“The safety of our colleagues, patients and visitors remains our priority. As the regional COVID-19 positivity rate continues to increase we have made the decision to revise our current visitation policy to one adult person bedside at a time per patient. (Visitor does not need to be designated and may switch out)” a statement on Gulf Coast’s website reads.

At this time, COVID-positive patients will not be allowed in-person visitors at Gulf Coast. The hospital recommends alternate visitation options such as virtual visits.

No visitors under the age of 18 will be allowed at the hospital.

Visitation exceptions at Gulf Coast will be made for the following:

  • ER – No visitors in the ER, exceptions may be made for one parent or guardian for pediatric/minor patients. Also, one support person for patients with disabilities or impairments warranting assistance.

  • Pediatrics – Two parents, per patient for the duration of the stay. Parents can stay overnight.

  • Labor and Delivery – Two support person or spouse at a time bedside. Support person or spouse can stay overnight.

  • PICU, NICU – Two parents, per patient for the duration of the stay. Parents can stay overnight

  • End of Life – Two (2) visitors at a time bedside. Visitors may rotate.

This article originally appeared on The News Herald: Florida COVID: Panama City hospitals add visitation restrictions

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting