St. Mary’s Healthcare Updates COVID-19 Restrictions

As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to spread in our communities, St. Mary’s Healthcare has updated and toughened some of its guidelines to protect patients, colleagues, and the community.

Spokesman Mark Ralston tells WLHR News one tougher guideline has to do with visitors to all of their hospitals.

“To protect our patients, colleagues, and providers, St. Mary’s has further restricted visitation at all three of our hospitals. No visitors are allowed except in certain circumstances, such as if the patient is receiving end-of-life care, delivering a baby, is a child in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, or has special needs. Visitors must be at least 18 years of age and will be screened for signs of illness at entry,” he said.

Many in the community want to say thank you for the round-the-clock efforts of doctors and hospital staff at Sacred Heart and other hospitals in our area and have been dropping off donations of food and gifts for them.

However, Ralston said they cannot accept them for health and safety reasons, but he says there is another way to say thank you.

“We must respectfully decline unsolicited deliveries of food, flowers, and gifts at this time.  However, we are very appreciative of the outpouring of support from people and business for our staff during these difficult times,” he explained. “While we cannot accept donations of food and gifts at this time, donations of funds and certain products, such as new and unused PPE, are much needed. St. Mary’s Foundation welcomes your donations. Please contact our Foundation at [email protected]

Additionally, many people are showing their gratitude and compassion for hospital workers by sewing surgical masks.  Ralston said while that’s nice, those masks are not that effective against COVID-19.  However, St. Mary’s will accept donations of professional surgical masks.

Other changes include:

• St. Mary’s Gift Shop remains open to colleagues and approved visitors. In addition, the Gift Shop can accept telephone orders for flower deliveries to patients or staff. Please call 706.389.2548 for details. The gift shops at St. Mary’s Sacred Heart and Good Samaritan Hospitals are closed.

• To protect the health and safety of our volunteers, many of whom are at elevated risk from COVID-19, St. Mary’s has suspended all-volunteer services until further notice.

• In conjunction with our medical staff and in accordance with guidance from the CDC and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, we are postponing non-essential surgeries and certain radiology procedures. However, we continue to schedule and perform essential procedures when a delay would harm the patient, for example, if a patient needs immediate surgery for cancer.

• Because severe COVID-19 infections attack and damage the lungs, St. Mary’s is joining with all of Trinity Health is urging people who smoke or vape to quit. Smoking and vaping are known to damage delicate tissues in the lungs and bronchial system and can be especially dangerous for pregnant women. This damage can put people who smoke and vape at heightened risk for serious complications, including pneumonia. For information, please call our certified Freedom from Smoking facilitator, Todd Drake, at 706.389.2915.
• To protect our vulnerable patients, we have temporarily suspended our Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation classes at St. Mary’s Hospital. All support groups and perinatal classes are also suspended through at least April 30, and our Wellness Centers in Athens and Lavonia are temporarily closed and staff have been redeployed. The cafeterias at our hospitals remain open for colleagues and approved visitors, but are closed to the general public until further notice.

Again, to make a donation to St. Mary’s Healthcare you can contact the St. Mary’s Foundation by calling 706-389-3926 or emailing [email protected]