St. Luke’s Adds Vaccination Requirement for Visitors

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St Luke's Bethlehem Campus Fountain Hill

St. Luke’s University Hospital-Bethlehem, pictured above, is located in Fountain Hill and is one of a dozen hospitals in Pennsylvania and New Jersey that are part of St. Luke’s University Health Network. SLUHN became one of the first health care institutions in the area to mandate that visitors be vaccinated against COVID-19 on Tuesday. (FILE PHOTO)

After announcing earlier this month that there would be restrictions on hospital visitation due to the current surge in COVID cases, St. Luke’s University Health Network officials Tuesday said they will further require that visitors be vaccinated against the potentially fatal disease.

“(SLUHN) has updated its hospital visitor policy in response to a dramatic, ongoing surge in COVID-19 cases, including a portion..that have been identified as the highly transmissible Omicron variant,” the network said in a news release.

Under the network’s newly-updated visitor policy, up to two vaccinated visitors per patient will be permitted entry at all of its hospital locations.*

“The decision to restrict visitors to only individuals who are vaccinated is out of concern and for the protection of our most vulnerable population as well as our health care staff, whose ability to work at this time is critical,” the release said.

According to the updated vaccination policy, “all visitors are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.”

Additionally, per the news release, visitors must:

  • Wear a mask that covers their mouth and nose, nad maintain social distancing throughout their visit.
  • Limit consumption of food and/or beverages to cafeteria areas, if available. Visitors may not eat/drink while in patient rooms or in waiting areas as doing so requires mask removal and increases the risk of infection.
  • Be in good health and submit to a health screening if required.

Visiting COVID-19 patients is prohibited except for those who are dying from the disease, the news release said. Visitation is also prohibited in cancer treatment areas of the hospitals.

For patients with cognitive or intellectual disabilities, one support person may remain with the patient.

Hospital Visitor

St. Luke’s University Health Network visitors must now be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, hospital officials announced Tuesday. There is also a limit of two visitors per patient at a time. Hospital visiting hours are from noon to 8 p.m., except for “end of life” patients, who may be visited at any time. Only COVID patients classified as “end of life” may have visitors.

Visiting hours are from noon to 8 p.m., for individuals age 12 and older, except for patients classified as “end of life” patients. The health network said they may receive vistiors at any time, but visitors should try to avoid two windows: 6:45 to 7:15 a.m. and 6:45 to 7:15 p.m.

*Patients undergoing same-day surgery/procedures and patients in the ER are limited to one visitor.

Specialty specific visitation guidelines are available at patient information desks or on patient care units in the hospitals. It should be noted that policies and guidelines for visitors may vary at St. Luke’s Warren Campus in order to comply with New Jersey Department of Health directives that may differ from those in place in Pennsylvania.

Anyone planning a visit to a SLUHN facility can visit Slhn.org/covid-19 for additional details and updates.

The Lehigh Valley Health Network visitation policy was last updated Oct. 22 and does not currently include a vaccination requirement for visitors. Visit the LVHN website to learn more.

The St. Luke’s news release did not specify how the vaccination status of visitors would be verified, although individuals who have been vaccinated have a card that lists the dates and types of vaccines they have received.

Previously, SLUHN officials said approximately 80 percent of COVID cases confirmed during the current surge are in unvaccinated individuals.

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