Fairbanks Memorial Hospital lifts certain visiting restrictions as COVID cases decline

Published: Mar. 11, 2022 at 4:12 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - As of Friday, March 11th, Fairbanks Memorial Hospital (FMH) has lifted some of their COVID-19 restrictions due to the diminishing number of COVID cases, and a decreasing risk of transmission.

According to Dr. Angelique Ramirez, Chief Medical Officer for Foundation Health Partners, these restrictions apply to both patient visits and in-person services.

“We are lifting many restrictions,” Dr. Ramirez explained. “I think the most important for the community is if you are visiting a non-COVID patient, we are allowing two visitors at any time. That’s the first time in the pandemic that we’ve been at that point, so this is a huge cause for celebration that we’re able to do that. We know how important it is to so many of our patients and so many family members.

Dr. Ramirez continued, ”We are also opening up for the first time the business office, our medical records department and other departments that have been closed where people have business with us. We’ve been having to do all that over the phone or electronically through email and those options are still available. But at this point in time, there are some people who prefer to conduct business in person and if they would like to do so we can accommodate that.”

However, some restrictions will remain in place for the safety of patients and community members.

“What is staying in place is screening at the entrance,” Dr. Ramirez elaborated. “We have to, and we’re asking for the community’s help on this. Don’t come see us if you’re feeling ill, [or] if you’re sick. If you’ve been exposed to somebody that you know with COVID we’re asking that you wait and not come see us. We are also requiring universal masking. Even though the CDC lifted its masking requirements for the public, the reality is they have a different set of guidance for health care institutions, and we are required to follow that for all of our accreditation and for the safety of our patients. That requirement is that, in[side] the building still requires masking. So even though we are allowing visitors, it’s with that trust that our visitors and our community will respect those requirements.”

Along with lifting restrictions for the public, FMH has also lifted some restrictions for their staff according to Dr. Ramirez. “We’ve been requiring protective eyewear as well as masking for all patient care. I wear glasses so I don’t need it, but I would have to wear guards on the side. But our staff... I’ve had to wear eyewear for any patient care and sometimes the goggles can fog up, you can’t see as well, et cetera. The reason [was], again, the risk of transmission was so high - so no longer having to do that is a huge benefit for our staff. Having visitors... I think many of our staff have not enjoyed being in the position of having to say ‘no’ to family members, so that’s going to be a huge benefit.”

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