Sep. 3—ALBANY — New visitation guidelines went into effect at Phoebe Putney Health System facilities on Thursday after health care officials noted COVID-19 hospitalizations in the system's three hospitals had flattened out.
The main change is that two visitors are now allowed in each non-COVID patient's room at a time, rather than just one. Patients in emergency rooms may have one visitor with them, except during unusually busy times when social distancing guidelines may require visitors to wait outside the lobby. Exceptions and full visitation policy guidelines are available at www.phoebehealth.com/visitation.
Phoebe is caring for 30 COVID patients in its hospitals, 24 at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in Albany, four at Phoebe Sumter Medical Center in Americus and two at Phoebe Worth Medical Center in Sylvester. That number is up just one, from 29 a week ago.
"We would love to get to a point where we have zero COVID patients in our care, but that may not happen for quite some time, if at all," Phoebe Health System Chief Medical Officer Dr. Dianna Grant said in a news release. "Recently, we have maintained a very manageable level in our COVID units.
"We know loved ones play a critical role in the healing process for patients, and we do not want to put undue stress on those patients and families, so we are easing our visitation guidelines to permit greater access for visitors."
The Phoebe Health System's numbers as of Friday were:
—Total COVID-19 patients in Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital: 24;
—Total COVID-19 patients in Phoebe Sumter Medical Center: 4;
—Total COVID-19 patients in Phoebe Worth Medical Center: 2;
—Total inpatients recovered: 4,698;
—Total COVID-related deaths at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital: 466;
—Total COVID-related deaths at Phoebe Sumter: 126;
—Total COVID-related deaths at Phoebe Worth: 1;
—Total vaccines administered: 81,418.
"We can safely accommodate additional visitors as long as everyone follows our masking protocol," Grant said. "We still require double masking — a surgical mask covered by a well-fitting cloth mask — or an N95 for all visitors and staff. Evidence shows that level of protection greatly reduces the risk of virus transmission."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recommends masking in health care settings. According to the current guidelines for health care facilities on the CDCs website, "it is generally safest to implement universal use of source control (masking) for everyone in a health care setting."
The CDC also has approved the use of new COVID-19 vaccine boosters from Pfizer and Moderna. Phoebe has placed orders for both vaccines and will begin administering those shots as soon as the shipments arrive.
"These boosters were specifically designed to protect against the current most prevalent variants of the virus, and we expect them to offer even better protection than the original booster shots," Grant said. "We encourage those who are eligible for the booster to go ahead and get the shot to help us avoid a fall surge in cases."
The Pfizer vaccine is currently authorized for anyone 12 and older. Moderna's booster is authorized for those 18 and older. You may receive one of the new booster shots at least two months after the last dose of any COVID-19 vaccine and three months after an infection.
To schedule a vaccine appointment at a Phoebe facility, call (229) 312-MYMD.