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More people can visit their loved ones in hospitals, with proof of vaccine or a recent test

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Posted at 11:59 AM, Dec 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-01 14:59:54-05

Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center is allowing more visitors in patients' room, just ahead of the holidays.

There are still a few hoops visitors will need to jump through to keep everyone safe, from the patients to the hospital staff.

Patients will be able to have two visitors at once. However, to enter the hospital, the visitors will need to show a negative COVID-19 test done within the past 72 hours, or a vaccination card.

This comes after a change in a California state mandate that limited the number of visitors at hospitals.

Patients will be able to switch out who visits as well. They are limited to a total of two visitors at a time, but there is no limitation to how many visitors can visit in a day.

Cindy Sullenger, House Supervisor at Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center, says that for many patients, the change is hitting close to home.

“It's the families wanting to see their loved ones," Sullenger said, "It is so much easier to say you can switch out instead of just saying, 'Oh, you can only have one visitor.'"

The decision has made a positive impact on patients and visitors, Sullenger added, saying, "They are so happy that they can have more than one visitor [especially when] people are coming into town."

Visitors can provide documentation from a recent, negative COVID-19 test – including a PCR or an antigen test – or present their vaccination card at the lobby. The requirements have influenced some people to get their shot, Sullenger said.

"They're considering vaccination, either the Johnson and Johnson with one shot, or Pfizer," she said, also mentioning the vaccine boosters that are now available.

Children are generally not allowed to visit, though they have made exceptions to the rule in special cases.

“We do allow visitation if it's a critical event or something has happened," Sullenger said. "We have allowed and made exceptions."

When children visit, the hospital tends to operate visits differently.

“We do keep them separate. We have private rooms that we keep them in, and then they can come in quickly and then go out," Sullenger clarified. "We have allowed that, and we try to keep them as safe as can be."

Surgery patients face different restrictions. They are only allowed one visitor per day, per visit.

Anyone who is diagnosed with COVID-19 cannot have any visitors, but the hospital says they try to work around that.

“We are trying to put them in rooms that have windows so the families can come up to the windows and see their loved ones,” Sullenger told the KSBY team, explaining that medical staff can use FaceTime and Skype when they can't speak face-to-face.

Not all hospitals share the same policies, and visitors are encouraged to check with the facility ahead of time.

French Hospital Medical Center told KSBY they are also allowing two visitors per patient at each time, though visitors can switch out. The hospital shares the requirement of showing proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within the last 72 hours.

At French Hospital, children under 18 can visit with patients, but they also have to adhere to the requirements.

There are exceptions as well, including when patients are in critical conditions. The hospital also told KSBY than in specific situations, people may have a support person stay in the room.

A support person may be allowed for pediatric patients, during labor and delivery or for patients with specific disabilities.