Care New England bars hospital visitors

PROVIDENCE — Care New England, Rhode Island’s second-largest healthcare system, has established a no-visitor policy at all of its hospitals: Kent, Butler and Women & Infants.

Lifespan, the state’s largest system, has established a similar policy, also in response to the coronavirus, or COVID-19, outbreak.

“We are very aware that ongoing cases of COVID-19 in the US makes it likely that the infection is now, or will soon be, moving through our community,” Robin Neale, Care New England’s director of clinical effectiveness and infection prevention, said in a media release received Wednesday.

“Evidence to date suggests that many people with COVID-19 may have only mild cough and cold symptoms or may even be asymptomatic. However, evidence to date also suggests that patients who are weakened by illness may be at increased risk of serious complications or even death from COVID-19. For this reason, we feel it is best today and for the near future to take [this] very significant step to prevent the possibility of transmission of COVID-19 by visitors to hospital patients.”

Effective immediately, Care New England said:

— “Adult Inpatients will not be allowed visitors at Kent Hospital, Women & Infants Hospital and Butler Hospital.

— “Obstetric Inpatients will be allowed one designated support person during their stay, and a pre-designated doula while in labor, if applicable.

— “NICU patients will be allowed only two designated support persons during their stay.

— Emergency department patients will be allowed only one accompanying adult and that person’s duration of stay in patient areas will be limited.

“Only persons essential to patient mobility, and/or comprehension will be allowed to accompany patients into diagnostic imaging, laboratory and ambulatory/outpatient service areas of the hospital. In very limited circumstances, exceptions may be made to this visiting policy at the discretion of medical and/or nursing leadership.”

In other coronavirus-related developments Wednesday:

– Sponsors have canceled this year’s Brain Week, a popular series of events that had been planned for March 14 to March 22.

Sponsors wrote in a media release: “Following the recommendations of several of our sponsors – Brown University, [the state Health Department], Care New England, Lifespan– Brain Week Rhode Island has made the decision to cancel this year’s events.

” In addition to the hundreds of people who attend our events, many of the panelists, workshop leaders and speakers are health care professionals. Our decision is intended to protect these people who are on the front line, as well as our audiences and supporters. Considering the health concerns of the day, we are mindful of the people who might be at genuine risk or those who are concerned about exposing themselves.”

Brain Week sponsors include Cure Alliance for Mental Illness, the Carney Institute for Brain Science at Brown University and the University of Rhode Island’s Ryan Institute for Neuroscience.

— Grow Smart RI’s annual Power of Place Summit has been postponed, tentatively to a date to be determined in June.

“We didn’t take this step lightly,” the organization wrote in an email to participants acknowledging the extent of disruption . “As an organization committed to helping Rhode Islanders achieve healthier neighborhoods and lives, we concluded that the only responsible option was to postpone the Summit.”

– The Providence Athenaeum “has decided to suspend all programs with more than 50 attendees through the month of March,” the institution announced on Wednesday. “We will reassess the situation as we go, since it seems to be evolving so rapidly. Smaller gatherings, such as reading groups and story hours, will take place as scheduled.”

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On Twitter: @gwaynemiller

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