Peninsula hospitals restricting visitors

All three North Olympic Peninsula hospitals are restricting visitors amid high community prevalence of COVID-19.

“There is no visitation except under special circumstances,” said Amy Yaley, spokeswoman for Jefferson Healthcare hospital in Port Townsend.

The same policy is in effect at Olympic Medical Center in Port Angeles and at Forks Community Hospital.

“All routine visiting and escorting has been suspended in all areas of our hospitals and clinics,” OMC’s website says.

The rule includes the Olympic and Jefferson hospitals’ urgent-care clinics and laboratories in Port Angeles and Port Townsend.

Patients should come alone to doctor and lab appointments, Yaley added.

The new restrictions have been imposed as the Peninsula sees COVID-19 case rates rise into the state’s high-risk category: 188 per 100,000 population in Clallam County and 156.74 per 100,000 in Jefferson County over the past two weeks.

Now is the time to slow the coronavirus’ spread by limiting the numbers of people entering healthcare facilities, Yaley said Tuesday.

Two people with COVID-19 are in Jefferson Healthcare hospital’s acute care unit, she said. Both are in stable condition.

Three coronavirus-infected patients are hospitalized at Olympic Medical Center, chief human resources officer Jennifer Burkhardt said Tuesday.

“We are in the red zone” as a community, she added.

Yaley noted that the temporary no-visitors policy is necessary to keep medical staff, patients and community safe. It will remain in effect at least through mid-December, in the wake of Gov. Jay Inslee’s statewide restrictions announced Nov. 15.

“We will make assessments based on decreasing positive cases in the community,” she said.

There are several exceptions to the hospitals’ policies, including:

• Patients younger than 18 may be accompanied by a caregiver;

• Patients with altered mental status, developmental delay or disruptive behavior may have a caregiver for safety;

• Patients coping with complex decisions about serious illness may have a support person;

• Patients with disabilities may have a designated support person.

Other special considerations are listed at olympicmedical.org for OMC and at jeffersonhealthcare.org under “Patient Services” for Jefferson Healthcare. For Forks information, see forkshospital.org or phone 360-374-6271.

Hospital officials are asking community members to stay vigilant wherever they go.

“We need to double down,” said Jefferson Healthcare CEO Mike Glenn, “on masking, social distancing, washing our hands and staying inside your bubble” throughout the Thanksgiving holiday period.

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Diane Urbani de la Paz, senior reporter in Jefferson County, can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected].

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