In response to the state’s rising number of hospitalizations and deaths attributed to COVID-19’s resurgence in Arkansas, UAMS Medical Center in Little Rock announced Friday that it will limit visitation to one person a day per patient. The change will go into effect Monday, July 26.
Previously, patients could have multiple visitors a day as long as only one visitor was in the patient’s room at a time. UAMS will continue to require visitors to pass a daily health screening and wear both a photo ID badge and a face mask. Hospital visitors will also be required to stay in the patient’s room at all times.
On Wednesday, Washington Regional Health System in Fayetteville announced that it was re-instituting COVID protocols in response to the surge.
“We know the importance of family presence for our patients and regret having to make this change, but we were forced to do so in order to protect our patients, staff and visitors,” said UAMS Medical Center CEO Steppe Mette, M.D., in a statement. “We have already had one patient infected with COVID by a visitor. With the workforce shortage hospitals are facing now, we must minimize the risk of infection for our medical staff and care teams.”
UAMS officials said the hospital is working to ensure patients continue to have the support they need, particularly for patients with disabilities and elderly patients who may have dementia or difficulty seeing or hearing. UAMS is also using digital visitation to help patients stay connected virtually.
“We will, of course, continue to allow additional visitors for end-of-life situations,” Mette said. “Our staff has worked closely with families over the past 18 months to ensure they have as much contact with their loved ones as possible, and they’ve come up with very creative ways to keep families connected and protected from the spread of COVID. We have to be much stricter until COVID cases in Arkansas are under control and the number of patients in our hospital decreases dramatically.”