Erie County Medical Center announced Wednesday that it has banned all visitation to patients, effective immediately, in response to the state's designation of Erie County as an orange zone of Covid-19 pandemic-related restrictions.
The color-coded zones are part of the state's microcluster strategy, designed to target hot zones while avoiding more sweeping regulations like the state's "pause" this spring that shuttered all nonessential businesses and schools.
The only exceptions to the ban on visits are in cases where a visit is deemed medically necessary, or in end-of-life compassionate care situations.
The Grider Street hospital, which in common with most other local hospitals had cut back on visiting hours last week, said it suspended visitation based on guidance from the state Health Department.
In addition, no support persons are allowed in the trauma and emergency department, except when deemed medically necessary, and such people must agree not to leave the patient's room during the entire visit. To reduce congestion in the waiting room, a patient triage area has been set up.
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Elective and outpatient surgeries are still going on, but ECMC patients are limited to having one support person through the intake process. That person won't be allowed to rejoin the patient until discharge.
ECMC said it has 18 Covid-19 patients now, but it is monitoring bed availability closely and will reassess the situation if Covid-19 hospitalizations increase significantly. The medical center currently is using less than 30% of its ventilators.