April 1, 2021
St. Peter’s Health has modified visitor restrictions for hospitalized patients at the Regional Medical Center (hospital). Updated visitor restrictions are as follows:
Inpatients hospitalized on the Intensive Care Unit, Surgical, Medical, and Oncology floors will be allowed one, designated, healthy adult visitor for their inpatient stay. No visitor exchanges will be allowed (for example, spouse can't visit one day and son the next). Visitors will be allowed to be with patients from 10:00AM to 4:00PM, seven days a week. Visitors will be required to enter the Regional Medical Center or Emergency Department entrance. Designated visitors will be required to use Emergency Department entrance on holidays and weekends.
One designated support person for labor and delivery, pediatric and emergency department patients. Visitor hours do not apply for these caregivers.
Two visitors will be allowed at any given time for end-of-life patients.
Visitation will not be allowed for patients hospitalized due to complications from COVID-19 unless an end-of-life situation or as otherwise determined by the care team.
St. Peter’s Health encourages Urgent Care patients to attend visits alone to reduce the number of people in Urgent Care facilities. However, one designated, healthy adult is allowed to accompany patients if needed.
St. Peter’s Health continues to restrict visitors from attending outpatient or clinic appointments (e.g., primary or specialty care appointments, lab appointments, physical therapy, diagnostic imaging, etc.). The only exception is pediatric patients (one caregiver unless two are necessary for medical decision-making) or an essential caregiver.
According to St. Peter’s Health Vice President of Operations Brian Lee, “we have had very strict visitor restrictions in place at the Regional Medical Center for the past year to ensure the safety of our patients and our employees. After much thoughtful consideration and feedback from our frontline staff, our COVID-19 response incident command team has determined at this point we can make these strategic modifications.”
St. Peter’s Health emphasizes that it will continue to keep many COVID-19 precautions in place at all facilities, including strict masking requirements for visitors and staff. “The safety of our caregivers and patients remains our priority. We feel we can make these changes to our restrictions in a step-wise manner, keeping many other precautions in place and always reverting to more stringent restrictions, if necessary” said Lee. “We are incrementally opening up to more visitors for our inpatients because we realize how important having a loved one by your side during your hospital stay can be for wellbeing and healing.”
St. Peter’s Health made this decision based on a combination of factors, including the reduced number of local COVID-19 cases, reduced number of patients hospitalized due to complications from COVID-19, and increasing vaccination rates. Dr. Todd Wampler serves as the President of the St. Peter’s Health Medical Group, and he emphasized that it takes all of us doing our part to reduce the spread of the novel virus. “We do not want the community to think that this means that COVID-19 is over because that is far from the truth as we see cases increasing again across the country and in some areas in Montana. Plus, we continue to see cases reported daily in our community. It takes all of us doing what we can – avoiding large groups, masking when in public, and staying home when sick unless seeking medical care, getting vaccinated – to slow the spread and save lives.”
St. Peter’s Health is also expanding the services provided in both its urgent care locations, at 2475 E. Broadway St. and 3330 Ptarmagin Lane in Helena, Mont. For the past year, patients with COVID-19 or flu-like symptoms were not allowed to seek care at the North location, whereas only patients with these symptoms were allowed to visit the urgent care at the Regional Medical Center. “We believe we are at a point where we have processes and protocols in place to safely care for patients with all kinds of injuries and illnesses at both locations,” said Lee. “Things like closely monitoring the waiting area and asking people to wait in their cars, if needed to maintain physical distancing, will help us make this change safely. These changes are effective immediately, and will resume the availability of more options for convenient, quality care.”