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Cleveland-Area Hospitals Ban Visitors In An Effort To Stop COVID-19 Spread

Most Cleveland-area hospitals are banning visitors in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, St. Vincent Charity Medical Center and Summa Health of Akron, announced changes Friday effectively ending most visits, with some common exceptions.

Most of the visitor bans begin immediately, but St. Vincent and UH will begin enforcing the changes in visitor policy on Saturday, 

"Given everything that's going on with the coronavirus right now we are trying to be proactive," said Cleveland Clinic Chief Clinical Transformation Officer Dr. Jim Merlino.

MetroHealth was the first to ban visits to patients as of Wednesday, and the local other hospital systems followed suit.

“This step is being taken to protect our patients, staff and community during this unprecedented time,” said MetroHealth President and CEO Akram Boutros, in a news release. “We know the only way to flatten the curve and reduce widespread community infection is to limit social interactions.”

Exceptions to the no-visitors policy vary among the hospitals, but some are common including allowances for:

  • mothers giving birth,
  • parents visiting the neonatal unit,
  • parents visiting a minor child, and
  • patients in critical condition or under hospice care.

Hospitals will require any of visitors in those categories to be healthy and fever-free.

The policies also will be modified for patients in the end-stages of life, on a case-by-case basis.

The Clinic is taking steps to find ways for patients and families to connect electronically during this time, Merlino said, since the change will have an impact on both patients and their family members.

“One of the things we are actually working on is bringing up a digital platform for family members to connect with their loved ones. Certainly people can do that now with their phones, but hopefully very soon we will be able to offer that," Merlino said.

Cleveland Clinic hospital staff are posted at all hospital entrances, screening visitors and taking temperatures. There will also be signs posted throughout the buildings explaining the new visitation policy, he said.

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