Omicron spread prompts Jackson Health to restrict visits
Image via AP.

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Except for those seeing people in end-of-life care, all nonpatient visitors must be adults.

Jackson Health System has significantly restricted visitation at all its facilities throughout Miami-Dade County, where positive cases of the omicron COVID-19 variant are rising.

The public county hospital network announced the new restrictions Thursday. They went into effect Friday morning.

Jackson is only allowing people into its facilities if they have a scheduled appointment, are visiting an existing patient or require emergency medical attention.

Everyone entering a Jackson building must wear a mask covering their nose and mouth, adhere to physical distancing guidelines and undergo a health screening and temperature check.

Except for those seeing people in end-of-life care, all nonpatient visitors must be at least 18 years old.

Hospitalized adult patients may have one healthy visitor at a time from 9 a.m. to noon and from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., according to restrictions Jackson updated Friday.

Adult and minor inpatient behavioral health patients may have one healthy visitor daily, with each visit lasting one hour. Visitation scheduling for those patients will be done alphabetically. Patients whose last names begin with the letters A through M may have visitors from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Those whose last names begin with the letters N through Z may welcome visitors from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.

For outpatients with scheduled appointments, one guest is allowed unless the patient needs help from a caregiver who will be performing home care requiring hands-on training or if the patient is in legal custody and requires a police escort.

Visitation is still allowed at Jackson long-term care facilities.

Other exceptions include:

— Patients with physical, intellectual and developmental disabilities or cognitive impairments may have one healthy support person present “whenever medically necessary.”

— Labor and delivery patients may have one healthy visitor at all times, including overnight.

— All pediatric patients may have one healthy parent/legal guardian during the day and overnight.

— Babies in the newborn ICU may have one healthy parent/legal guardian bedside from 9 a.m. to noon, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., and 9 p.m. to midnight daily.

— Inpatient rehabilitation patients may have one healthy visitor at all times, including overnight.

— Patients being discharged following left ventricular assistance device or transplant surgery may have one healthy adult visitor during the discharge process for competency training.

— Patients receiving end-of-life care may have one adult-accompanied child visitor at a time if they are the child’s parent or legal guardian and do not have a confirmed or suspected COVID-19 diagnosis.

— Patients receiving end-of-life care with a confirmed or suspected COVID-19 diagnosis may have one healthy adult visitor.

All other visitation, including at adult emergency departments, is prohibited for now.

On Thursday, Jackson Memorial Hospital reported having 58 COVID-19 patients, its highest count in weeks and a 10-patient increase from the day prior.

The Florida Department of Health reported the first presumptive case of omicron in the state Dec. 7, signaling the onset of a new chapter in the COIVD-19 pandemic in the Sunshine State.

CardioPath, a private lab in Doral, confirmed Miami-Dade’s first case of omicron Dec. 10.

The variant’s arrival coincided with the second consecutive weekly uptick in COVID-19 cases across South Florida’s tri-county area.

This week, the seven-day average of positive tests for the virus reached 7%, up from 1% a month ago.

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava advised residents during a Thursday press conference to dine outdoors through the holiday season and to wear masks indoors among unvaccinated friends and family.

Levine Cava, who reinstated a local order for hospitals in Miami-Dade to resume daily COVID-19 reporting, called the recent sharp rise in positive case counts “an unfortunate reminder to all of us that the pandemic is not all over.”

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


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