UNC Health Southeastern to require COVID-19 vaccination for most hospital visitors

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Sep. 11—LUMBERTON — Proof of COVID-19 vaccination will be asked of visitors to UNC Health Southeastern's medical center starting Sept. 21, the health care system announced Friday.

"Our region's low vaccination rates and the recent surge in COVID-19 patients have forced us to adjust our visitor requirements," said Patrick Ebri, UNC Health Southeastern vice president and chief Engagement officer. "As the pandemic situation continues to evolve, we will make further changes as needed."

Visitors that fall under the vaccine requirement category for adult patients with no cognitive challenges will be asked to show their vaccination card when they sign in to visit, according to the health care system. If vaccination cards are not available, hospital staff will verify vaccination status using the North Carolina Vaccine Database. Anyone vaccinated outside North Carolina and not listed in the state database must provide proof of vaccination to visit patients.

In some cases, being vaccinated will be strongly recommended instead of required, according to UNC Health Southeastern. These cases include medical center visitors who accompany children, birthing mothers, patients with cognitive challenges, and those who are visiting patients under end-of-life care. Vaccination will also be strongly recommended for necessary support individuals at outpatient clinics and facilities.

Emergency Department visitors currently are allowed only in extreme medical circumstances, with recommended vaccination, according to the health care system. Visitation at WoodHaven Nursing, Alzheimer's and Rehabilitation Center continues to follow state and federal guidelines.

Friday's announcement marks the third time since early April that UNC Health Southeastern has adjusted its visitation policies because of the ongoing pandemic.

In April it was announced that patients in outpatient and physician services clinic locations could be accompanied by one caregiver when needed. Visitors had to be 18 years old and older, were required to wear face coverings and pass screenings to include temperature checks. Visitation hours were limited.

A person visiting a COVID-19 patient had to wear full personal protective equipment, which was provided by the medical center.

In early June UNC Health Southeastern expanded visitation to allow two visitors per patient at the medical center and extended visitation hours to 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. But the age requirement for visitors remained at 18 years old and older.

Visitation for COVID-19 positive patients and patients on specialized hospital units, such as ICU and emergency services, was subject to the varying visitation policies specific to their diagnosis and unit. Visitors were advised to to consult medical center staff for specific visitation guidelines.

Individuals interested in scheduling an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine can do so by calling UNC Health Southeastern primary care clinics directly or scheduling through the Call Center at 1-844-735-8864.

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