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Sentara to limit visitors

Sentara Healthcare has announced new policies that go into effect March 12 in response to coronavirus.

The new virus, which is causing a disease called COVID-19, was officially declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on Wednesday.

According to the new policies, all Sentara hospitals will allow only two visitors for patients in hospitals, emergency departments and outpatient settings. Visitors are asked not to come if they are sick with coughing, sneezing or fever, or if they have traveled internationally.

In addition, visitors in all Sentara nursing centers, rehabilitation centers and the Assisted Living Village are limited to two per day, between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. These visitors will be screened for signs of illness and travel histories before being allowed to enter.

“This is to ensure the safety of our most vulnerable patients and residents as well as our employees,” the new policy states.

Sentara is also developing in-house testing for the disease and expects to be able to test in-house at regional sites in the next few weeks.

Optima Health said it would waive member co-pays for tele-visits and prescribed testing.

Also Wednesday, Sentara confirmed that coronavirus patients had sought testing at its Leigh Hospital in Norfolk and Princess Anne Hospital in Virginia Beach.

Sentara listed the following as “recommended best practices”:

  • If you have a respiratory illness that includes a fever, cough, and/or shortness of breath AND you meet travel or exposure criteria for COVID-19:
  • Call your health care provider to determine the safest screening method for you. If you are a Sentara patient, this may include a video visit.
  • Please consider a virtual visit to determine if you need further screening or testing. Many insurance plans, including Optima Health, will cover the member cost of testing for COVID-19. Options include Sentara Video Visits or MDLIVE.
  • If you have a respiratory illness that includes a fever, cough, and/or shortness of breath AND you meet travel or exposure criteria for COVID-19, AND you do not have a primary care physician, cannot participate in a virtual visit, or a visit has recommended further screening or testing for COVID-19, visit your local emergency department. Please call in advance so that infection prevention precautions may be taken to protect you, other patients, visitors and employees.