MICHIGAN CITY — To minimize the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak, area hospitals have put visitor restrictions in place.

As of Monday, no visitation will be allowed at Franciscan Health Michigan City, with certain exceptions, according to spokesman Robert Blaszkiewicz.

One visitor will be allowed for patients in Pediatrics, Family Birth Center, Intensive Care Unit and the Emergency Department.

A visitor badge is required and must be obtained at the front desk. All visitors will be screened for signs of illness before receiving a badge, he said.

Persons in any of the following categories will not be allowed to visit:

Traveled to China, Japan, Iran, South Korea, Italy or have been on a cruise ship in the last 14 days

Have had contact with or have someone in their home who had contact with a person with a confirmed or highly suspected case of COVID-19

Under the age of 18

Have symptoms of a respiratory infection such as cough or shortness of breath

Have a fever or signs of a fever (chills) in the past 24 hours, or have temperature of 100 or greater

Other changes for visitors include the suspension of valet parking until further notice.

Public Mass in the hospital’s chapel will also be suspended, though Mass will continue to be offered to patients via video in their rooms.

The Dunes Café will be closed to the general public, but packaged grab-and-go meals will be offered for sale to visitors.

La Porte Hospital and Starke Hospital have also announced updated visitor restrictions.

“We remain alert and are ready to provide this care,” La Porte Hospital CEO Ashley Dickinson said during a presentation to the La Porte City Council on Monday.

Effective Tuesday, visiting hours were suspended in all areas at Starke and La Porte Hospitals with the following exceptions, where patients may have one visitor at any time: Emergency Department; Surgery, Labor & Delivery Unit; Pediatric patients; and patients at end of life.

Patients in other areas may not have visitors at any time.

“(The restrictions) are pretty drastic, but it’s something many facilities are taking,” Dickinson said. “It’s something we feel we need to do at this point.”

La Porte Hospital visitors may enter through the main entrance until 6 p.m. or through the Emergency Department entrance. At Starke Hospital, visitors may use the main entrance until 6 p.m. and then will use the ED entrance. All visitors will be asked screening questions upon entry.

La Porte Hospital released additional guidelines:

No one with respiratory illness symptoms or fever is allowed to visit.

No one under the age of 18 is allowed to visit (identification may be requested).

No one who has traveled internationally or been in contact with someone with a respiratory illness in the past 14 days is allowed to visit.

Visitors will be asked screening questions upon entry.

Beacon Health System has also revised its visitation policy, according to spokeswoman Heidi Prescott.

No visitors will be permitted except under special circumstances.

Parents may visit their child on pediatric and newborn units

One coach or partner may visit each patient on labor and delivery units

All efforts will be made to allow visits to loved ones near the end of life

All visitors who meet the above criteria must be over the age of 18, in good health, and will be subject to a health screening, Prescott said.

Beacon has advised the public to stay home and connect with loved ones using channels, such as FaceTime.

Beacon is also reaching out to patients scheduled for upcoming non-emergent surgeries and canceling some of those procedures, she said.

“This shift will allow the hospital to prioritize resources as they prepare for treating patients with COVID-19,” Prescott said.

Beacon will continue to safely care for patients who need urgent surgeries.

Saint Joseph Health System also announced changes.

“Based on the latest available information, one important way to enhance resident health and safety is to reduce their potential exposure to COVID-19,” spokesman Tom VanNevel said.

“The fewer people with whom our patients and staff come in contact, the less likely they are to contract COVID-19 or other infectious diseases.”

To that end, no visitors will be permitted at our Saint Joseph Health System hospitals in Mishawaka and Plymouth.

Exceptions include the following areas where a patient may receive one individual visitor daily who is healthy and over the age of 18:

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)

OB/Delivery

Pediatrics

Emergency Department

Outpatient Surgery

In end-of-life situations, two visitors may be allowed per patient.

“In consideration of the many unique situations that present themselves in healthcare, occasional exceptions to this policy will be considered through hospital executive review and approval,” VanNevel said.

Patients being admitted or discharged are allowed a caregiver to be in attendance during the admission/discharge process.

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