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Saint Michael's Imposes Visitor Restrictions to Protect Patients from Coronavirus

  • Category: News
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  • Written By: Saint Michael's Press Office
Saint Michael's Imposes Visitor Restrictions to Protect Patients from Coronavirus
Access to Saint Michael's Medical Center in Newark is being restricted to the main entrance (pictured above), where visitors will be screened before being allowed into the hospital.

THESE VISITOR RESTRICTIONS HAVE BEEN SUPERSEDED. PLEASE CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST INFORMATION.

NEWARK – To protect patients and staff from the novel coronavirus, Saint Michael’s Medical Center has put in place restrictions on visitors to the hospital.

Saint Michael’s has also closed its entrances on Central Avenue and Martin Luther King Blvd., though the Emergency Department entrance on Central Avenue will remain open for patients seeking emergency care.

All visitors to Saint Michael’s must now enter through the main entrance, where they will be screened by hospital staff who will ask if they have traveled outside of the United States in the past two weeks, if they are experiencing any respiratory or cold/flulike symptoms or if they have been exposed to anyone with coronavirus or the flu.

Visitors who answer in the affirmative to any of the questions will be asked to return home, self-quarantine and contact their primary care physician.

Visitors to the hospital must be a significant other and/or a responsible healthcare giver and must be at least 18 years or older. Patients can have only one visitor at a time at their bedside on both patient floors and in the Emergency Department.

Visiting hours at the hospital are from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and will be strictly enforced.

“While we do not have any reported cases of the virus in Newark, we are imposing these restrictions out of an abundance of caution to protect our patients,” said Dr. Jihad Slim, the chief of the Department of Infectious Diseases at Saint Michael’s. “Our patients count on us to protect them. Limiting visitors protects patients and staff from potential exposure to the coronavirus. We hope that anyone who is visiting understands the seriousness of the situation and why we had to put these restrictions in place.”

New Jersey has 11 presumptive cases of coronavirus, or COVID-19, in Bergen (5), Camden (1), Hudson (1) Monmouth (2), Passaic (1) and Union (1) counties. Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday declared a State of Emergency. However, state Health Department officials have said the risk to the general public remains low. Residents with questions about the virus are urged to call New Jersey’s hotline at (800) 222-1222.

For the last several weeks, Saint Michael’s has been working closely with local, state and federal public health agencies as well as its own health care professionals to prepare in the event of a suspected or confirmed case.

“Our staff is already well trained in the use of standard, contact and airborne precautions in the treatment of patients with infectious diseases,” said Dr. Slim said. “We are relying on this expertise as we prepare for the possibility of patients with suspected or confirmed cases of coronavirus.”

On Wednesday, the hospital is holding meetings with employees throughout the day to provide the latest updates.

To reduce the possibility of spreading coronavirus in the hospital, all patients who are brought into Saint Michael’s emergency room and clinics are screened to determine if they may have a suspected case of coronavirus.

Saint Michael’s has an Emergency Operations Plan in place, which includes details on how to handle a patient with a suspected or confirmed case of coronavirus. The hospital has negative pressure rooms where patients can be isolated, preventing the spread of infection to other patients.

Additionally, Saint Michael’s has an Emergency Operations Team that communicates daily and has weekly meetings. Members of the team include physicians, senior leadership, nursing, quality/risk, infection control, security, facilities, human resources, employee health and IT.

Patients who have symptoms of the coronavirus should contact their medical provider first. Coronavirus symptoms are similar to the flu and may include fever, cough and shortness of breath.

While there is no vaccine to prevent coronavirus yet, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued recommendations to help prevent the spread of the virus.