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Area hospitals adjust visitation as COVID-19 cases decline

As the wave of COVID cases breaks, area hospital officials are loosening restrictions on the number of visitors allowed at patients’ bedsides.

As of Tuesday morning, the ban on most visitors at the University of Virginia Medical Center will cease, although some restrictions on how many visitors are allowed will be implemented.

The changes come a week after similar restrictions were eased at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital, according to the corporation’s website.

“With COVID-19 case counts declining, additional visitation will be permitted at University of Virginia Medical Center inpatient units, emergency department, outpatient clinics and outpatient procedural areas effective Tuesday,” said Eric Swensen, UVa Health spokesman in a prepared statement. “The changes will also apply to the UVA Transitional Care Hospital.”

UVa will now allow one designated adult visitor between 8 a.m.-9 p.m. at its inpatient units and transitional care facility. Overnight stays are not permitted.

The medical center’s emergency room and department, outpatient clinics and procedural areas will now allow one designated adult visitor.

All public spaces, including the hospital lobby, cafeteria and waiting areas, remain closed to members of the public.

Other changes include allowing two adult visitors for pediatric patients, 24 hours a day, seven days a week throughout an inpatient admission, emergency department visit or an outpatient visit or procedure.

Patients with disabilities may have one adult designated visitor with them 24 hours a day, seven days a week throughout an inpatient admission, emergency department visit, outpatient visit or procedure and patients in labor may have one adult designated visitor at all times while in active labor.

Patients at the end of life may have two adult visitors with them 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

According to its corporate website, on Feb. 9, Sentara Healthcare, the not-for-profit corporation that owns Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital, announced changes to its restrictive visitor polices to allow emergency room patients with special needs, minors and critically ill or injured patients to have one visitor.

Hospital specific policies at Martha Jefferson Hospital allow two visitors per patient in the facility at a time; one visitor for the duration of a stay for patients in the maternity ward; two designated visitors – one at a time – for COVID patients; and no visitors in the cancer center.

Visitation allowances at the area’s medical facilities have varied throughout the pandemic, ranging from no visitors except in end-of-life situations and maternity cases in March 2020 when the pandemic first hit Virginia and again last January when a post-holiday surge struck the region.

The restrictions have eased after COVID case surges have fallen off. They are designed to help protect medical staff at the hospital as well as patients and other visitors.

When the pandemic appeared to be retreating in June and July, the hospital allowed two visitors at bedsides, and others could wait in lounges, lobbies and other public spaces.

An August surge created by the delta variant convinced UVa Health officials to limit patients to two designated patients, with only one at a time allowed at their bedside.

Anyone with questions about the UVa policy should call the hospital at (434) 924-0000 or go to online at

Information on Sentara Martha Jefferson restrictions and requirements can be found at


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