Valley Health elevated its visitation restrictions to Level Red this Monday in response to higher risks of transmitting Covid-19.

Under Level Red, the hospital system, which owns Hampshire Memorial, limits patients to 2 care partners, with only 1 allowed in the room at a given time. No social visiting is permitted. 

Level Red is the most restrictive of a new 3-tiered approach to hospital and outpatient facility visitation across the 6-hospital health system. The new standardized framework assigns a green, yellow or red visitation level associated with a low, medium or high risk of exposure to both Covid-19 and influenza for patients and caregivers.

The level is determined by an algorithm that combines health system data with public health data and current trends. 

The change in process streamlines Valley Health’s ability to determine and communicate safe practices for those who are providing support for a hospitalized patient or accompanying a loved one to an outpatient appointment.

The new guidelines are built around designated care partners, family members or trusted friends 18 years or older who are chosen by the patient to be an active part of their care team. Each visitation level — red, yellow and green — spells out the privileges and responsibilities for care partners and varies according to hospital unit or care setting, and level of patient acuity. 

Valley Health said the new policy takes into account the important role that care partners play at the bedside, while ensuring the safety of our patients, visitors, staff and the broader community.

“We understand the importance for our patients of having the support of a care partner during their hospitalization,” said Theresa Trivette, Valley Health’s chief nursing executive. “The amendments we have made to our visitation process will better enable the presence of a supportive care partner while still protecting patients and caregivers from potential exposure risk.”

Since March 2020, when the 1st patient with Covid-19 arrived for care, Valley Health staff throughout the region have focused on protecting the safety of patients, visitors and caregivers from the highly contagious virus. 

Valley Health’s hospitals, nursing facilities and outpatient sites have restricted visitors and required face masking, other PPE, distancing and hand washing to prevent Covid-19 transmission in the vulnerable population of hospitalized patients and long-term care residents.

“We know that visiting restrictions have been a necessary, but difficult, factor for our patients and families over the last 20 months, but we feel a profound responsibility to protect our patients and workforce,” said Valley Health Quality and Patient Safety Officer Dr. Nicolas Restrepo.

Each hospital and outpatient facility across the health system will share the current level of caution for visitation. For more details about the Level Red Visitation being enacted on Monday, visit valleyhealthlink.com/visitation. o

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