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Local hospitals change visitor policies as COVID-19 cases surge again

Posted at 8:53 PM, Jan 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-06 21:14:53-05

(WTXL) — Although there could always be changes, South Georgia Medical Center said their current policy will stay the same for now. They've been a one visitor per patient hospital since 2021's COVID-19 summer spike.

"Certainly we are monitoring it very close because we don't want to overwhelm the system and we don't want to see that wave," Erika Bennett, SGMA Director of Marketing said.

SGMC is currently sitting at 33 COVID-19 hospitalizations, this is opposed to the 118 the South Georgia hospital had in summer 2021.

That current spread is causing local hospitals like Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare, with 41 COVID-19 hospitalizations and Capital Regional Medical Center with 25 hospitalizations, to change their hospital visitation policies as well.

Both are now only allowing one visitor per patient to come into the hospital during visiting hours.

Even though SGMC has had that policy since the summer spike in 2021, they said they thought about making a change when the spread was more minimal.

"We did consider changing it once the spread had gone down when we had only three patients in the hospital, but certainly with the rise now, it will have to be something we look at in the future," Bennett said.

Georgia Department of Public Health's South Health District, which covers 10 counties in South Georgia, has also noticed the spike.

"About three weeks ago, our seven-day increase was 160 and this week we've seen an increase of over 2,000," Kristin Patten, spokesperson for SHD said.

To help keep an eye on COVID-19 cases, SGMC has also re-opened their drive-thru testing clinic, which has seen more than 1,000 tests administered daily.

"It helps us kind of monitor what's going on in the community and know how many positive cases are out there, and also it helps to alleviate the need of someone coming to the ER that might not need emergency care, but just wants to get tested," Bennett added.

Bennett also told ABC 27 that they usually see around 200 patients per day in their ER, but that number has now increased to almost 300 patients per day within the past five days.