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PO Box 843, Zebulon, Georgia 30295. You can donate through PayPal at the link on the bottom of the page. Becky Watts: Phone # 770-468-7583 editor(@)pikecountytimes.com
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URMC Visitation Policies Change Based on Cases of COVID-19 In Community
By Editor Becky Watts

THOMASTON - Pike County Times has been contacted by readers with both complaints and praise for local hospitals during this time of COVID-19. Pike County Times reached out to both Upson Regional Medical Center (URMC) and Wellstar Spalding Regional Hospital to inquire about their visitation policies.

This is the interview from Upson Regional Hospital that was conducted last week with Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) Lane Harrington.

Visitation Has Been Restricted Due to COVID-19

URMC has restricted visitors at the hospital due to COVID-19. There are some instances where visitation is permitted, but there is no visitation for COVID-19 patients at this time unless there are special circumstances.

“With the on surge that we have recently experienced with our COVID-19 population in our area, we are following the CDC recommended guidelines for no visitation for COVID-19 patients kind of as an umbrella,” she said. CNO Harrington said that she has looked at and researched other hospitals like Piedmont and Navicent which are restricting visitation for their COVID-19 patients to ensure that URMC is in line with what others in the community are doing.

URMC has iPad and some of the nurses prefer to use their cellphones to Facetime with families in order to connect the families and the patients together. “We don’t allow visitation except for special circumstances,” she said. This would be determined on a case by case basis.

Exceptions to Visitation Rules

Visitation has been restricted to most areas in the hospital at this time. This includes the Wound Center which only has a small waiting room and has construction going on close by. However, there are instances where visitation is permitted.

Labor and Delivery allows one support person. A care provider is allowed in the Emergency Room with an elderly patient if help is needed to help make decisions for the patient. But if the patient can make their own decisions, the hospital asks that the caregiver wait in the car. And a parent is allowed to stay with a pediatric patient.

Pike County Times was advised that a phone call, text, even Facetiming can be done with the doctor when there are decisions that the caregiver needs to be involved in if the caregiver is not allowed into the emergency room.

Current Visitation Policy

CNO Harrington advised that the rules and regulations have changed dramatically based on the amount of viral spread. Back in June, URMC had begun allowing visitors and the general population back into the hospital. But once COVID-19 started back up, restrictions have gone from allowing one visitor to no visitors again. Current policy was put into place on December 27, 2020 except in special circumstances.

Current visitation policy is shown on the URMC website by clicking here.

“We are providing the best care possible for our COVID-19 patients. We’ve had a lot of successes as far as very sick patients turning around and being discharged,” said CNO Harrington. “And the staff is really understanding of the public’s concern about visitation because the nurses also feel the stress of not being able to allow their patients to have visitors. From a compassionate standpoint, we want to be people to be able to have loved ones around that can help care for them, but unfortunately with the circumstances, the rapid spread really helps predict what visitation is going to look like.”

In an attempt to help curb the spread of COVID-19, URMC is providing COVID-19 vaccinations to the community.

Latest URMC COVID-19 Information

According to the URMC website, URMC is offering COVID-19 vaccinations for those who are eligible according to the CDC/DPH Phase 1a individuals including: Adults aged 65 and older, Law Enforcement officers, Firefighters, and First Responders. URMC currently only has a supply of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine and does not anticipate receiving any other vaccines. Clinical trials find this vaccine to be 95% effective in preventing COVID-19 cases and must be given in two doses with the second dose being administered 21 days after the first dose.

Walk ins are not being accepted. An appointment must be made on the COVID-19 scheduling phone line at 706-646-5727. Vaccinations will be given in the Upson Regional Medical Center Auditorium at 801 West Gordon Street in Thomaston. Parking will be available in the parking lot below the Auditorium entrance and access into the vaccination clinic can only be through the Auditorium entrance.

Beginning January 21, 2020, we will also be offering the COVID-19 vaccine at the Upson Regional Medical Center Barnesville Medical Office Building (100 Hwy 18 W). To schedule an appointment in Barnesville, call 770-872-5015.

There will be up to five schedulers at each number taking calls. “We anticipate many more calls than we are able to facilitate. Please be patient with our staff as we work to schedule these appointments at the same time we are taking care of a large number of COVID-19 patients.”

Readers can view more information at COVID-19 vaccines as well as eligibility requirements by clicking here.

Please note that the scheduling phone number is 706-646-5727.

Click here to read about Wellstar Spalding Regional's visitation policies.