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Uniontown Hospital announces suspension of visitation

03/19/2020
Pictured here is one of the signs being used by Uniontown Hospital to curtail patient visitation amid Coronavirus concerns.

By Jennifer Garofalo

Herald-Standard

Uniontown Hospital will stop visitation for patients at the facility, effective Thursday, March 19.

Community Relations Director Josh Krysak said the decision was a difficult one, but hospital officials felt it was necessary to ensure the safety of patients, hospital employees and the public as COVID-19 continues to spread across the state.

“This was not something that we took lightly,” Krysak said, “but we want to make sure we’re doing everything we can do to keep everyone safe."

He said the policy will be continually evaluated to determine when it is safest to lift the restriction, and noted visitation exceptions will be made for those patients receiving end-of-life care.

To gain access to the hospital under those circumstances, Krysak said the visitor would first contact the patient’s shift or floor supervisor. The process would then move to hospital police, who would get the visitor the necessary identification to come the facility.

Krysak noted the continued importance of maintaining contact with patients through phone or video calls and email.

“It’s an important part of the healing process,” he said.

In another precautionary move, Krysak said, the hospital’s volunteer programs were suspended on Tuesday.

And while diagnostic testing will still be conducted at the hospital, officials on Wednesday halted elective surgeries through May 15. Krysak classified those procedures as ones that would not impact a patient’s quality or length of life. West Virginia University Medicine, which Uniontown Hospital signed a letter of intent to join in January, issued the same directive about elective surgeries, citing the urging of the U.S. surgeon general.

“This is a common sense measure that is in line with what is recommended to do our part,” said Krysak, noting a nationwide need to preserve medical supplies as COVID-19 cases continue to spread.

Excela Health also canceled all non-essential surgeries as of Wednesday, according to Chief Medical Officer Dr. Carol Fox. A representative of Monongahela Valley Hospital in Washington County said Wednesday they have not stopped elective surgical procedures.

Mon Valley Hospital, Excela Health and WVU Medicine have all put visitation restrictions in place, limiting it to one visitor per patient.

In addition, WVU Medicine announced that any patients who meet the criteria for COVID-19 testing will be directed to one of five testing sites in the state. Those are located in Morgantown, Parkersburg, Bridgeport, Wheeling and Martinsburg.

Staff write Mark Hofmann contributed to this report.