Two designated people will be permitted to visit adult patients at Geisinger facilities as part of the health system's latest update to its visitation policies announced Thursday.
The change comes on a day state Department of Health officials reported three new COVID-19 cases in the Valley, all in Northumberland County.
Visitation remains limited due to COVID-19 mitigation, but Geisinger’s revised policy now allows doulas to accompany delivering mothers and two visitors for most inpatients. The system is still urging family and friends "to find alternatives ways of visiting, such as phone calls, Facetime, Skype and other means when possible."
Hospital visitors must complete a health screening, including a temperature check, at the entrance and should wear their own masks at all times.
According to the latest update, the hospital will permit "two designated visitors who should not change throughout the hospital stay. These two visitors can visit twice a day, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 3 to 6 p.m. Visits can last up to two hours during each time period."
Also, a certified doula is permitted to accompany a delivering mother, along with the mother’s support person. The doula is considered part of the expectant mother’s care team. They will be screened before entering Geisinger facilities and are required to wear a mask and follow all other policies and procedures when caring for a patient. If the doula tests positive for COVID-19, they may continue to support the patient virtually, but may not visit the patient on-site.
Three new COVID-19 cases in Northumberland County pushed the Valley total of cases to more than 500 on Thursday. The milestone comes as the state announced another 579 cases and 39 new deaths statewide.
Thursday's new cases push the statewide total since March to 83,770. State health officials estimate 78 percent of patients with COVID-19 Pennsylvania have already recovered.
Statewide, 6,557 residents have died, including 4,471 with ties to long-term care facilities. One of the nine local deaths — one in Northumberland County — has been linked to a nursing or personal care home.
The only new cases Thursday were in Northumberland County. To date, there have been 502 cases in the Valley: 284 in Northumberland County, 89 in Union, 68 in Montour and 61 in Snyder. Union, Montour and Snyder counties have not had any new cases since Monday.
In the data release, the state confirmed 45 cases in long-term care facilities in Northumberland County — 40 residents and five workers.
In nursing and personal care homes statewide there are 17,454 resident cases of COVID-19, and 3,123 cases among employees, for a total of 20,577 at 676 distinct facilities in 50 counties.
Approximately 6,341 of Pennsylvania's total cases are in health care workers.
Statewide, there are 703 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, down 12 from Wednesday, including 133 on ventilators.