Southern Illinois hospitals increase visitor restrictions as region’s COVID-19 cases rise

By Marilyn Halstead, The Southern Illinoisan

By Marilyn Halstead

The Southern Illinoisan

Carbondale, Ill.


Tribune News Service —Increasing cases of COVID-19 across Southern Illinois have prompted some local hospitals to revise their visitation policies.

Most local hospitals enacted strict no-visitor policies in March as staff prepared for a surge of COVID patients. When the numbers of patients did not increase, the hospitals reduced the restrictions. With the recent rise in cases, those same hospitals are once again restricting visitors.

All hospitals will continue to screen patients and visitors for COVID-19 and check temperatures. Visitors will be required to wear masks, observe social distancing and perform good hand hygiene.

Heartland Regional Medical Center (HRMC) implemented a revised visitor policy on Nov. 12 in response to the rise in positive COVID-19 cases in the region and following state mitigation efforts. “Throughout the pandemic, Heartland Regional has taken exceptional measures to ensure that everyone seeking care, and each person providing that care, is safe,” Ed Cunningham, Heartland Regional CEO, said in press release. “Revising our Visitor Policy helps the public confidently visit the hospital or any of our clinics.”

No visitors will be allowed at the hospital or its associate clinics, including the intensive care unit, inpatient medical unit, emergency department, surgical unit and perioperative services, outpatient lab and imaging, and outpatient clinics.

If patients require a support person, some exceptions may be made in special circumstances, including pediatric patients and power-of-attorney or end-of-life situations. An exception may be made on a case-by-case basis when a support person is essential to ensure the emotional well-being of the patient. If possible, check with the nursing staff ahead of time if you have questions.

SSM Health in Illinois suspended visits throughout its care sites on Friday, which includes Good Samaritan and St. Mary’s hospitals, due to an increase in the spread of COVID-19 throughout the community.


No visitors are allowed except under certain circumstances, including end-of-life situations and when a visitor is essential for the patient’s emotional well-being and care. COVID-positive patients and patients under investigation for COVID are still be under a strict no visitors policy.

Obstetrics patients are allowed one person to offer support. Our clinics and emergency rooms will allow one or two parents or guardians for pediatric patients based upon the care environment.

Southern Illinois Healthcare has not implemented further restrictions at this time.

Birthing Center patients may have one dedicated support person. In addition to the support person, a certified labor doula is allowed to attend the labor, delivery and two-hour recovery that occurs in the birthing center.

Pediatric/NICU patients may have one parent or guardian at a time.

Patients with behavioral health, developmental delays or altered mental status for whom a family member or caregiver is integral to their care or safety may have one dedicated support person.

Patients in the Emergency Department may have one dedicated support person.

Inpatient adults may have two designated visitors per day, one at a time, between the hours of 11 a.m. and 7 p.m., and the designated persons can change day to day.

Surgery/Procedure patients may have one dedicated support person for the duration of the surgical procedure.

Patients at end-of-life may have up to four visitors at a time and can rotate with others. Patients may receive religious services from the religious leader of their choice at any reasonable time, if it can be provided without disruption to care. Religious leaders will not count as the patient’s visitor.

Other considerations made on a case-by-case basis by the house supervisor when essential to ensure the emotional wellbeing and care of the patient.

To verify whether or not visitors are allowed at other hospitals, please check with the hospital.

(c)2020 The Southern Illinoisan, Ill. Distributed by Tribune News Service.