Monument Health's hospitals, clinics and other facilities are now closed to visitors. The directive went into effect at 7 a.m. today.
The decision was prompted by recent reports of community transmission of the coronavirus within South Dakota, which means that people are contracting the disease without any apparent link to COVID-19 through travel or contact with infected individuals. Health care systems across the state and the nation are taking similar steps.
Exceptions to the policy include patients in Labor & Delivery, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and Pediatrics, as well as children in the Emergency Department where patients will be allowed one visitor at a time. In addition, patients in hospice care or receiving end-of-life treatment will be allowed special exceptions to this visitor policy.
“We sincerely regret having to take these steps, but we need to be aggressive in our fight against this disease,” said Brad Archer, M.D., Chief Medical Officer at Monument Health. “We owe it to our communities to do whatever we can to protect our patients and caregivers.”
In a related step, Monument Health Rapid City Hospital has designated a new entrance for mothers about to give birth. They can enter through the West Entrance of the Hospital, the north-facing entrance about 100 yards west of the hospital’s main entrance. In the past, mothers would check-in at the Emergency Department.
The new entrance will provide quicker entry to care and reduce the mother’s chances of being exposed to the COVID-19 virus through proximity with staff and patients in other parts of the hospital.
“Childbirth is stressful enough without worrying about exposure to COVID-19. We set up this separate entrance because we want families to feel as relaxed as possible,” said Kamela Johnson, Director of Women’s and Children’s Services.
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