Some New Hampshire hospitals are returning to more restrictive visitor policies, as COVID-19 cases and community transmission have increased across the state in the past few weeks.
Starting Nov. 6, Dartmouth Hitchcock facilities no longer allow visitors for inpatient or outpatient visits, except in eight specific cases, including labor and delivery, a child’s doctor appointment or for patients receiving end-of-life care.
Michael Calderwood, an infectious disease specialist at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon. said rising case numbers -- which exceed those New Hampshire saw this spring -- are a major reason for the updated visitor policy.
“While we have had policies in place with door screening and masking, we know we’ve had increasing numbers in the facility," he said. "The higher that number goes, the more chance there is for transmission."
He said while the hospital hasn’t seen that yet, they want to be proactive.
“Like with so many other things around COVID, this is a difficult change,” he said. “But we really have to recognize it is possible that we unknowingly could be carrying the virus, and we want to think about how we can do everything to protect those around us, particularly our loved ones and those who are caring for them.”
Calderwood said testing clinics at Dartmouth-Hitchcock facilities have seen increases in the number of symptomatic people they’re testing, and increases in people exposed to COVID, as “people have been expanding their social bubbles.”
Concord Hospital has also restricted its visitor policy in response to rising infection numbers. No visitors are allowed in outpatient areas, with certain exceptions, and patients staying at the hospital are allowed one visitor per patient stay.
Both hospitals have virtual visit programs for patients, and all medical procedures are still ongoing and available.