NorthShore University HealthSystem to screen all visitors for COVID-19 risk factors

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Daily file photo by Colin Boyle

NorthShore University Health System.

Emma Edmund, City Editor

NorthShore University HealthSystem will begin screening visitors to all of its hospitals for COVID-19 risk factors beginning March 16, a Monday update said.

The hospital system is currently treating patients who have tested positive for COVID-19, also known as the novel coronavirus, and on Monday implemented visitor restrictions to help stop the spread of the virus.

No inpatient visitors are allowed to visit NorthShore’s campuses, with exceptions made on a case-by-case basis, an update stated. Only one person will be allowed to accompany a patient on an outpatient visit, and that person will be screened for COVID-19 risk factors.

These factors include symptoms of fever, cough or difficulty breathing, attending large gatherings, being in contact with a coronavirus-positive person within the last two weeks or recently visiting countries including Italy and China and/or cities including San Francisco and New York City.

If an individual is shown to have one of these risk factors, they will not be allowed to join the patient and will be asked to go home, the update stated.

“We understand this visitation restriction may be difficult but we are committed to keeping you, your family member and our staff safe,” the update stated. “We encourage you to use technology to support phone or video visits.”

The screening guidelines also apply to those accompanying an emergency department patient, but if the patient is admitted to the hospital’s inpatient units they will not be allowed to have visitors, unless the patient is a minor.

The update also outlined guidelines for postpartum patients and their visitors, as well as those visiting the Adolescent Psychiatric Care Unit at Highland Park Hospital.

NorthShore emphasized virtual communication while the visitor restrictions are in place, including FaceTime, text and phone calls.

The visitor restrictions will remain in place until further notice.

NorthShore also outlined guidelines for those looking to get tested for COVID-19 on its website. Testing remains limited, so NorthShore will prioritize testing for those who have more severe symptoms and who have tested negative for other illnesses such as the flu.

“Our physicians and advanced practice providers will make a determination for testing following their evaluation; this means that testing is based on clinical criteria that continue to evolve,” NorthShore’s COVID-19 site stated. “Not everyone who requests testing will receive testing; the need for COVID-19 testing is a clinical decision. We continue to coordinate our testing program with the Illinois Department of Public Health.”

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