Grand Strand hospitals relax visitation restrictions as COVID-19 hospitalizations decline

Updated: May. 24, 2021 at 9:40 PM EDT
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CONWAY, S.C. (WMBF) – Conway Medical Center and Tidelands Health are easing their visitation policy while maintaining some restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

One of the biggest changes at Conway Medical Center is noticeable as soon as someone pulls in.

For the first time in more than a year, the front entrance will be open. In fact, all the entrances will be open, and they’ll be open to more visitors than we’ve seen throughout the pandemic.

“We certainly recognize the importance of visitors and the importance of having family around you when you’re hospitalized,” said CMC Spokesperson Allyson Floyd. “We hated having to take that away from people, but it was medically necessary.”

CMC has been limiting the number of visitors that non-COVID patients can see for 15 months.

Floyd also said they’ve seen the number of COVID-19 isolation patients steadily decline into the single digits over the past few months.

“Right now we have seven in-patient, hospitalized COVID patients who are in isolation, which is certainly a much lower number than we saw starting this time last year,” said Floyd.

As that number declined, the hospital started allowing more visitors for non-COVID patients. Starting with one in August, then two in March, and finally more people will be able to see their loved ones.

“We’re excited that we’re actually going to get back to our pre-COVID visitation policy,” said Floyd. “Which means the hospital will be open completely to visitors starting on June 1.”

Those visitors will still have to wear masks at all CMC locations.

Unfortunately, patients who are in the hospital with the coronavirus will still be isolated and will not be allowed to have visitors.

Starting Monday, most inpatients at Tidelands Waccamaw Community Hospital and Tidelands Georgetown Memorial Hospital may have two adult visitors at a time between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. One adult patient support partner may also stay overnight, according to a press release.

However, officials said patients in COVID-19 isolation still may not have visitors for the safety of patients, their loved ones and team members, although exceptions may be made in end-of-life situations.

“With COVID-19 hospitalizations in the single digits and thousands of residents in Horry and Georgetown counties vaccinated, it is now safe for us to adjust our visitation policy,” said Dr. Gerald Harmon, vice president of medical affairs at Tidelands Health. “We know the importance of having a loved one accompany a patient, and we are glad we are now able to expand visitation guidelines.”

The hospital system said the following visitation rules have not changed:

  • Patients receiving care in the emergency department may be accompanied by one adult patient support partner after the patient has been screened and cleared for COVID-19
  • Patients receiving outpatient services may be accompanied by one adult patient support partner
  • Patients at the Murrells Inlet and Little River locations of Tidelands Health Rehabilitation Hospital, an affiliate of Encompass Health, may be visited by one adult patient support partner a day between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

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