SARANAC LAKE — Adirondack Health is reinstating its one-visitor-per-patient policy starting Monday.
The nonprofit organization — which oversees Saranac Lake’s Adirondack Medical Center, the Lake Placid Health and Medical Fitness Center and the Mercy Living Center in Tupper Lake — is reimposing its visitor restrictions as the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 each day in Franklin and Essex counties continues to rise. The hospital has imposed, or loosened, visitor restrictions in the past depending on what state guidance was at the time and the local positivity rate.
THEIR OWN DECISION
“Adirondack Health clinicians and leadership made the decision to limit patient visitation on our own,” said Adirondack Health spokesman Matt Scollin. “It’s our responsibility to minimize exposure to patients and staff due to community spread of COVID-19.”
Data from the Essex County Health Department shows that between Aug. 2 and Monday, 76 people in Essex County tested positive for COVID-19. In the first two weeks of August last year — before any vaccines were authorized for use in the U.S., while mask requirements and social distancing were still in place, and while the CDC still advised against travel — just 8 people tested positive for COVID-19 in Essex County. In the past two weeks in Franklin County, between Aug. 4 and Wednesday, 83 people tested positive. Around the same time last year, two people tested positive.
ONE VISITOR PER DAY
The Delta variant is now the dominant strain of the coronavirus in the U.S. The Delta variant is highly contagious and recent research has shown that vaccinated people infected with it might be just as contagious as unvaccinated people, even if they don’t experience any symptoms. It’s rare for vaccinated people to get “breakthrough” infections, but when it happens, the vaccines largely prevent serious illness and death from COVID-19.
Starting Monday morning, patients at AMC will be allowed one designated visitor every day, between the hours of 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. and 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., throughout the length of their stay, according to Adirondack Health.
There will be some exceptions for patients who are minors, in labor and delivery, or receiving end-of-life care. There is also an exception for patients that need a support person, such as those with intellectual or developmental disabilities, according to Adirondack Health. Support people can accompany patients to joint replacement or bariatric educational classes in the Redfield Boardroom, and to outpatient visits on a case-by-case basis.
The hospital is still requiring COVID-19 tests, regardless of vaccination status, for all inpatients and those undergoing elective surgical procedures. In most cases, patients’ insurance providers should cover COVID-19 testing if they’re sick and get a doctor’s order. Otherwise, patients will be responsible for the cost of any test performed, as well as any associated co-pays or deductibles, if they don’t have a specific doctor’s order, according to Adirondack Health.
AMC’s COVID clinic is still open. Drive-up testing — both PCR and antibody tests — is available there every day between 8 and 11 a.m. Testing is also available noon to 4 p.m. on Fridays. Appointments and preregistrations are still required. To schedule a COVID-19 test, call AMC’s COVID clinic at 518-897-2462.
All visitors to the hospital are still required to undergo a COVID-19 health screening and temperature check at the lobby entrance. Visitors are also still being asked to provide their names, contact information, date of their visit, and name of the patient they are visiting. The hospital is requiring all visitors to wear provided personal protective equipment, as recommended by the state DOH and the CDC, according to Adirondack Health.