Health Watch: Fairbanks Memorial Hospital widens visitation allowances

Published: Oct. 21, 2020 at 4:06 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - On Monday, Fairbanks Memorial Hospital’s (FMH) visitation policy was changed to allow expanded access for visitors.

Angelique Ramirez, Chief Medical Officer with Foundation Health Partners, explained that one support person at a time is currently being allowed to visit patients who are at the hospital for reasons unrelated to COVID-19.

“Prior to that, we have been allowing a support person for situations that were end-of-life, or critical care, or if there was someone who needed a significant amount of assistance from a family member,” she said.

According to Ramirez, “In talking to patients, and in talking to family members, we’ve given this a lot of thought, and really just recognizing the family member as truly a part of our care team. That it just makes for a far better healing environment and safer patient experience for everyone.”

While the hospital is encouraging a patient to have only one support person in their life to visit, this is not mandated. While visiting, people are encouraged to stay in the room of the patient they’re supporting, rather than wandering the building.

For COVID-19 positive patients, visitation is being allowed on a case-by-case basis in consultation with a nurse. Ramirez said the hospital is “really encouraging it for end-of-life or critical care, or critical situations, but otherwise minimizing it.”

To enter FMH, visitors are asked screening questions. If a visitor is experiencing symptoms, including cough, fever or diarrhea, or has tested positive for COVID-19 in the previous 20 days, that visitor is not allowed to enter.

“We’re encouraging visitation by phone, rather than actually in the room,” Ramirez said.

Masks are required at all times at FMH, and social distancing is encouraged except between a patient and a visitor of the same household. Hands must be washed upon entrance, and it is encouraged that they be kept clean throughout the visit.

Ramirez emphasized that current restrictions are subject to change. Updates to visitation policy can be found here, and are available by calling the Foundation Health Partners information line at 907-458-5066. Current policy is also posted at the entrance to FMH.

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