MURRAY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Suzanne Anderson, nurse administrator at Intermountain Medical Center, spoke Monday morning about changes coming to Intermountain facilities in light of the spread of COVID-19, also known as coronavirus.

“We have now implemented, just within the last 24 hours, visitor restrictions to protect the patients that are already here and our community members that may be visiting,” Anderson said.

According to Anderson, these restrictions include the following:

First, Intermountain is asking that those who are sick do not come to the hospital to visit patients. If they do, Intermountain requests that these individuals wash their hands when coming in and out of the hospital.

Anderson said that washing your hands is a fundamental way to stop the spread of the virus.

Second, Intermountain will be restricting visitors under 18 years of age, meaning these individuals can only visit under certain circumstances.

“There are certain circumstances under which those under 18 can visit, such as if a parent was very sick,” Anderson said. “The point of this is to minimize the amount of individuals entering the hospital who are not needing care at this time.”

She said two visitors at a time who are not sick is absolutely appropriate at this point.

Third, Intermountain asks that those who are experiencing major symptoms associated with coronavirus, such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath, or who are at greatest risk for the disease, call their physician’s office before coming in. They may then be directed to arrange a virtual visit with a doctor. Anyone coming in for visits will be instructed to wash their hands.

These guiding principles apply to any Intermountain hospital. Anderson stressed that Intermountain hospitals are still safe.

“We are well-prepared. We have great care clinics. We want people to come to seek care that need it,” she said. “And we also recognize how important family members are in the healing process.”

Anderson said that there has been a patient who came to an Intermountain Hospital with COVID-19, but that was not what prompted the visitation restrictions. Rather, it was the ramp-up in the number of those with the virus in surrounding states and the one known case in Utah, she said.

According to Anderson, Intermountain is following appropriate guidance from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, as well as the Utah State Health Department, and the Utah Hospital Association.

A recent media advisory from University of Utah Health said that they have set up negative pressure tents outside of the University of Utah Hospital to prepare for COVID-19 cases and in response to Utah Governor Gary Herbert’s State of Emergency Declaration.

According to Anderson, Intermountain personnel are currently discussing the possibility of negative pressure tents with their emergency preparedness group, though nothing has been decided at this point about what that will look like for Intermountain.

In addition, Anderson said that Intermountain is asking any sick caregivers not to come to work. Caregivers who have traveled to travel-restricted areas, such as China or Italy, will be required to check-in with employee health nurses.

“It’s not something that we want to ensue panic over, but we do want to be at the utmost preparedness in keeping both our communities and visitors safe,” she said.

Visit Intermountain’s Twitter page for updates.

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