HELENA — St. Peter’s Health leaders have announced they are returning to tighter restrictions on visitors, in response to the growing number of COVID-19 cases in Montana.
“Because we have the most vulnerable members of our population in our hospital – patients with cancer, newborns – we want to make sure that we protect those patients who are in our care,” said Dr. Todd Wampler, president of the St. Peter’s Health Medical Group.
Starting Thursday, all visitation will be restricted, with limited exceptions. One essential caregiver can accompany patients. Minor patients can have one caregiver, and two guardians when legally required. Labor patients on the Women and Children’s Unit can have one support person. End-of-life patients will be allowed two visitors at a time.
St. Peter’s initially implemented full visitor restrictions in March. In early June, they opened up to two visitors per patient. However, leaders said they believe it’s now necessary to return to stricter limitations.
“In addition to protecting our vulnerable patients, we’re also enacting the visitor restrictions to protect the caregivers as well – because we need to have them stay healthy, so that they can care for the community,” said Wampler.
During a Wednesday news conference with Lewis and Clark Public Health, Wampler noted that St. Peter’s has only cared for two patients hospitalized for COVID-19 – both in March, and both of whom have recovered. However, the state did record its highest number of cases in a single day this week.
“Our health care system has not yet reached capacity due to COVID-19, but we’re prepared for a surge that we hope we never see,” Wampler said. “Even so, our resources are not unlimited. That’s why it’s critically important to slow the spread of the virus and re-flatten the curve in Montana.”
St. Peter’s is still taking other safety precautions, including screening for COVID-19 symptoms at all entrances and requiring masks. Leaders ask that anyone experiencing symptoms contact their health care provider or visit St. Peter’s Urgent Care.