FARGO — Since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic on March 11, public health officials have encouraged individuals and businesses to take action in order to slow the spread of the virus including canceling events, social distancing and self-quarantine.
Hospitals and senior living facilities in North Dakota, Minnesota and South Dakota are enforcing visitor restrictions to protect their patients, residents and healthcare workers.
These restrictions come after national public health organizations announced their recommendations to slow the spread, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living. The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs also announced a “no visitor policy” at all of its nursing homes this week.
Here's a list of area hospitals, assisted living facilities and senior living communities who have enacted visitor restrictions.
As of noon on March 16, Essenta Health implmented a visitor restriction at area hospitals in order to "protect patients and staff, and prevent the spread of COVID-19 pandemic."
No visitors are allowed, except in the following circumstances:
- Inpatients: Visitors only will be allowed based on compassionate-care needs. Family members are advised to call the hospital before coming.
- Emergency department: One visitor for pediatric, vulnerable adult, trauma or other patient requiring communication to a healthcare team on their behalf.
- Pediatric patients: One adult visitor will be allowed per patient.
- Labor and delivery patients: One adult visitor will be allowed per patient.
- Neonatal intensive care unit: One parent is permitted to visit at a time.
All other visitors will be asked to leave the hospital. No visitors who are ill will be allowed.
These policies will be in effect until further notice.
Following the guidance from the CDC, Sanford health has limited access to a few entry points per facility and implemented mandatory screening for all visitors, according to a press release.
As of March 13, all visitors to any Sanford Health facility will be screened as they enter to check for respiratory illness symptoms including fever, cough and shortness of breath. Visitors to Sanford Health facilities will also be questioned about recent travel.
In addition, visitors to patients must be immediate family members, and only one visitor per patient will be allowed.
“The patients who enter our doors become family, and we will continue to look out for each other during this time,” said Allison Suttle, M.D., chief medical officer for Sanford Health. “It is important that we all do our part to prevent this illness from spreading in our communities by practicing good hygiene and staying home if we are sick. Let’s continue to take care of each other.”
Bethany Retirement Living
Bethany Retirement Living announced suspending all visits to two of its facilities: Bethany on University and Bethany on 42nd.
According to its website, non-essential visitors, including family members, contractors and volunteers are asked to stay away for the "next few weeks" or until the President and CEO Shawn Stuhaug release an updated message. Any visitor who may have a fever or symptoms of respiratory infections, or have been in contact with people who have those symptoms, are not allowed to visit Bethany Retirement Living without calling the Director of Nursing to discuss.
Stuhaug encourages family members of residents to communicate using video chat, calling, text or social media.
Earlier in March, Edgewood Healthcare restricted all visitors to its six locations in South Dakota communities after confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus. By March 12, Edgewood Healthcare communities enforced its visitor restrictions to all of its facilities, including its senior living facilities in North Dakota and Minnesota.
Edgewood's updated visitor policy includes the following requirements:
- Restrict daily visiting hours to the hours of 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. – 6 p.m.
- Designate the main entrance at each community that must be utilized by all visitors
- All visitors must log in and out during any visit
- All residents leaving the building log in and out
Edgewood Healthcare implemented these changes by following recommendations from the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living.
Eventide Senior Living Communities
Eventide Senior Living Communities has restricted all visitors to its facilities in Moorhead and four locations in North Dakota: Fargo, West Fargo, Jamestown and Devils Lake.
No visitors will be allowed, except in special circumstances such as end-of-life or when essential for a resident’s emotional well-being, according to a press release.
“Protecting our residents’ health and safety is our top priority,” said Jon Riewer, CEO. “As a result, we are taking the necessary steps to prevent an outbreak.”
Staff at Eventide are currently being screened for the coronavirus. No cases have been identified at any of the Eventide facilities.
Farmstead Living — which offers independent, assisted living and memory care in Moorhead — announced it would be limiting visiting hours as of March 12.
- Restricted visiting hours to 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
- Enter only the front door.
- Visitors required to fill out questionnaires upon arrival.
- If a person has any symptoms they are asked to refrain from visiting.
Questions about the restricted visit policy can call 218-512-2020.
Good Samaritan Society
As of March 10, The Good Samaritan Society, which is part of Sanford Health, updated visitation policies in all its senior living locations and services in North Dakota. The following visitor policy is currently in effect:
- Only those who need to enter long-term care facilities, such as employees and essential personnel, will be allowed to do so.
- Sanford Health, The Good Samaritan Society will work with families who have critical needs on a case-by-case basis.
River Pointe Senior Living
According to a Facebook post, all visits to River Pointe Senior Living in Moorhead are suspended unless absolutely necessary for ongoing, acute care.
In addition, River Pointe Senior Living has made the following changes:
- Signs are posted near the entrance to notify visitors about this updated policy.
- Staff at River Pointe may request a screening for the coronavirus from any visitor prior to entry.
- Community Life Activities, such as outside entertainers and volunteers will also be suspended during this time.
- Avoid shaking hands or hugs with any individual at this time.
If a person believes a visit is necessary, they are asked to contact the Executive Director or Director of Health Services prior to your arrival. Also, family members of residents should ensure River Pointe has up to date emergency contact information.
At this time, no reports of the coronavirus have been identified at River Pointe Senior Living. Continued updates on their website at www.welcomehmc.com, or on their Facebook pages.
Valley Senior Services
As of Monday, March 16, Valley Senior Services suspended activities at all senior centers.
- Transportation to senior centers: Starting on Tuesday, March 17, all transportation to senior centers is suspended.
- Congregate dining: Within the next three days, congregate dining is discontinued at meal sites with prepackaged meals made available for pick up.
- Participating seniors must register for daily prepackaged meals. Seniors are asked to call the meal site closest to them and sign up in advance. Those who are unable to get to a meal site to pick up a meal may sign up for Meals on Wheels by calling 701-293-1440.
New visitor restrictions will be added as they are announced by area healthcare facilities.
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