Rise in COVID cases prompt local hospitals to tighten visitation; ECMC says “boosters are the key” to slowing the spread


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Like many local hospitals, Erie County Medical Center has tightened their visitation restrictions in response to the rising COVID-19 rates in Erie County.

ECMC’s new restrictions are set to take effect on December 31. They’re now prohibiting inpatient visitation except when medically necessary or for family, legal and end-of-life purposes. For their emergency department, only one person is allowed per patient. Also, COVID visitation is prohibited except for end-of-life situations.

“We limited the visitation because we want to be able to make sure people can maintain the physical distance, make sure people are able to wear their masks appropriately,” said Charlene Ludlow with ECMC’s COVID task force and vice president and chief quality & safety officer.

“We’re really trying to decrease crowds. We don’t want people waiting in lines when they’re coming in.”

Ludlow says they’re nearing capacity, but most of their patients are not COVID patients.
Many people who are coming in with COVID, are either unvaccinated or are missing boosters.

“Fifty percent of the patients that we have admitted right now did have their initial vaccine doses,” she said. “But, what we are not seeing, is a large number of people who have gotten their boosters coming in. So, the boosters seem to be the real key right now.”

It is unclear when the visitation restrictions will be lifted.

“I have a COVID task force that meets daily. We look at our bed situation, we look at our staffing, and we look at our patient situation,” she said. “We will evaluate this every week. If we see the number of patients going down, if we see the positivity rate in the community going down, we’ll make changes to it.”

Here are visitation policies at local hospitals:

  • Kaleida Health visitation policy (effective Dec. 6, 2021), click here.
  • Cahtolic Health visitation policy, click here.
  • ECMC visitation policy, click here.
  • Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center visitation policy, click here.

Angelica Morrison is an award-winning reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.

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