A mandate issued by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) will now require visitors to go through some extra screening steps in order to enter hospitals or nursing facilities.
Hospitals like Lompoc Valley Medical Center (LVMC) and really every hospital and nursing facility across California will now require visitors to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours starting Wednesday. The mandate was created in an effort to protect patients and staff.
Staff at LVMC are already preparing, according to Chief Executive Officer Steve Popkins.
"At our screening areas at the entrances in our hospital we will have someone there requesting the proof of vaccination or negative tests," Popkins said.
Some people are not too happy about the news.
"I don't like it. For people to show proof is an act of tyranny, it's California you know, try this in Texas, it won't work," said Lompoc resident Julian Chavez.
The new mandate will tighten foot traffic inside health care facilities and will only apply for visitors, not patients.
For example, Popkins says those getting lab work done or simply going in for a check-up won't be turned away but if they bring someone with them, the person tagging along will need to comply, including children.
In a statement, CDPH Officer Tomas Aragon said in part:
“As we continue to see an increase in cases and hospitalizations due to the Delta variant of COVID-19, it’s important that we protect the vulnerable patients in these settings."
Others agree and say they're OK with it.
"They said if I could bring photo proof, so I went on my phone and my wife had downloaded a picture of my vaccine card, so I'm down with it. I think it's wonderful," said Dan Emmett, who is visiting his dad at the hospital in Lompoc.
Health officials at LVMC say although it's not listed in the public health order to make rapid tests available for visitors, they plan on making that happen there.
"Rapid COVID testing for visitors and within 15 minutes get the results and if they are negative, they can go ahead and come in. We are in the works of that. Hopefully it'll be available tomorrow if not the next day," Popkins said.
According to health officials, this order does exclude those who may be visiting critically ill patients where death may be imminent. They add it’s best to check in with your medical center or nursing facility before visiting.
Hospitals like Tenet Health Central Coast, Dignity Health and Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital all have to comply with the mandate, which goes into effect at midnight.