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Only the Vaccinated Can Visit These Florida Hospitals

This comes as wait times in the Emergency Department extend for hours for the less sick and some patients are being sent to Memorial’s urgent cares; COVID patient rooms are being double-bedded.

A doctor giving a woman a vaccine in her arm.
(TNS) - Memorial Healthcare, South Broward’s public hospital system, restricted its visitation policy further as the health system contends with a rapid rise in COVID-19 emergency department visits and hospitalizations.

The health system will allow only fully vaccinated visitors during designated hours into its five hospitals: Memorial Regional , Memorial Regional South, Memorial Hospital West , Memorial Hospital Pembroke and Memorial Hospital Miramar. Each admitted patient is allowed one visitor during set hours.

This comes as wait times in the Emergency Department extend for hours for the less sick and some patients are being sent to Memorial’s urgent cares; COVID patient rooms are being double-bedded; triage tents are erected again to diagnose COVID patients, and areas of the hospitals such as the cafeteria and auditorium have been sectioned off to treat non-COVID patients.

Traveling nurses now supplement Memorial staff, and shift incentives are being offered to nurses to provide more patient care.

“We are treating patients but not without a lot of effort and strain on our staff,” said Maggie Hansen, Senior Vice President and Chief Nurse Executive for Memorial Healthcare System.

The health system’s doctors are caring for 387 patients who are COVID-19 positive, with more than 98% of them unvaccinated — 46 more in the last three days and a 225% increase from only three weeks ago when the health system had only 105 COVID patients on July 1. Among the COVID patients, 43 are in intensive care, with two-thirds of those critically ill patients on ventilators.

“It’s important to put things in perspective in what hospitals across South Florida are dealing with as we try to manage the rising number of COVID cases and general hospitalizations,” said Kerting Baldwin, director of corporate communications for Memorial Healthcare System.

Memorial hit a peak in COVID patient admissions on July 20, 2020, with 674 hospitalized prior to vaccines becoming available. After a dip earlier this year, patients with COVID symptoms are flooding into emergency departments again.

“We look at the infection rate in the community, and how many patients we are managing, to set our visitation policy,” Baldwin said. Broward County’s test positivity rate on Wednesday was 15%, significantly higher than 5% which is considered the recommended level for government reopenings.

Broward has 62% of its eligible population vaccinated against COVID with at least one dose.

“We need the understanding and compassion of the community,” Baldwin said. “We encourage everyone to follow CDC safety guidelines and get vaccinated.”

The only exception, Baldwin said, will be for visitors in the maternity labor/delivery units, those seeing patients at end of life, and families of children at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital.

Baldwin said a year ago when COVID admissions were rising, the health system did not allow any visitors. “Now that we are seeing a good amount of people vaccinated, we are able to extend our policy to allow visitors,” she said.

Across South Florida, hospitals have begun tightening visitation policies as COVID cases rise in the state and local counties. Local hospitals’ policies are available on  Sun Sentinel.com.

Sun Sentinel health reporter Cindy Goodman can be reached at cgoodman@sunsentinel.com.

©2021 South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Visit sun-sentinel.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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