(An earlier version of this story contained incorrect information from ECMC about elective surgeries. It has since been corrected.)

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Erie County Medical Center updated patient visitation guidelines Sunday due to an increasing volume of patients and extended emergency room wait times with an increasing number of COVID-19 patients. 

Because of this, ECMC is implementing new guidelines to its visitation policy starting Monday. The hospital says it’s in an effort to protect its patients, visitors and staff against the spread of COVID-19.

“The ERs, not just ECMC, but around the region, actually across the country, are severely impacted by this and the staffing crunch that the hospitals are in,” said ECMC emergency room physician Dr. Sam Cloud. We are not an inexhaustible resource, your healthcare providers and workers here in Western New York. “So it’s really important that our fellow citizens do what they need to do to protect us because we can’t do this forever.”

Additionally, inpatient elective surgeries that were postponed in September will remain suspended indefinitely. Outpatient elective surgeries continue to be performed.

ECMC urges anyone experiencing mild symptoms to first consult with their primary care physician or visit an urgent care location. 

View ECMC’s guidelines below:

Inpatient Visitation

1. One designated inpatient visitor per day is permitted. The patient or their legal representative will determine the designated essential support person who can visit the hospital.

2. No Visitation Permitted for COVID-19 Inpatients, COVID-19 Patients Under Investigation (“PUI”) or patients in quarantine with compassionate exceptions for end-of-life.

3. Visiting hours are from 1:00pm – 7:00pm.

4. If a visitor cannot visit, they can contact their loved one over the phone or through a scheduled video call. The patient’s care team can help set up the video call.

5. All visitors are required to comply with ECMC’s screening checkpoint procedures and must wear a mask at all times while in the hospital. If they cannot comply with the screening measures, they cannot have an in-person visit in the hospital.

Critical Care Units

1. One designated inpatient visitor per day is permitted for the duration of a patient’s stay. The patient or their legal representative will determine the designated essential support person who can visit the hospital.

2. COVID-19 patient visitation remains prohibited for the safety of our patients and caregivers, with compassionate exceptions for end of life.

3. Visiting hours are from 12:00pm – 2:00pm, 5:00pm – 6:00pm and 8:00pm – 9:00pm.

4. If you are not able to visit, you can contact your loved one over the phone or through a scheduled video call. The patient’s care team can help set up the video call.

5. All visitors are required to comply with ECMC’s screening checkpoint procedures and must be masked for the entire time they are in the hospital. If you cannot comply with the screening measures, you cannot have an in-person visit in the hospital. All visitors are required to wear a mask at all times and remain in the patient’s room during visitation.

KeyBank Trauma and Emergency Department

1. One support person is permitted per patient. The support person will be able to accompany a patient in the Emergency Department, and that person must remain in the patient’s treatment room for the entire visit.

2. At times we may need to restrict visitation to maintain an appropriate care environment for our patients.

3. All visitors must be screened for COVID-19 symptoms and must be masked for the entire time they are in the hospital and ensure social distancing with proper hand hygiene.

4. If a patient is admitted to the hospital, their support person may accompany them to their room during inpatient visiting hours. If they are admitted outside of visiting hours, the support person must return during visiting hours.

5. Pediatric patients may have both parents as essential support persons.

Behavioral Health & Acute Substance Abuse Unit

Visitation in Behavioral Health is by appointment only.

Please call 716-898-5293 Monday-Friday, between 9:00am-5:00pm to schedule a visitation appointment.  

Surgery and Procedure Areas

1. For outpatient elective surgery cases, patients may be accompanied by a companion and that companion may remain in ECMC’s designated waiting area until the patient is discharged, unless otherwise disallowed by ECMC according to the patient’s status, condition, circumstances, or hospital policy.

2. If a patient has a surgery that requires admission outside of visitation hours, the essential person will be welcomed to return during visitation hours.

Outpatient Clinics and Services

1. If a Support Person is needed for a patient they can assist with check-in and provide a phone number to be called when patient is discharged.

2. If deemed medically necessary, one support person may accompany the patient for the entire clinic visit.

Terrace View Long-Term Care Facility

1. Appointments for visitation are no longer required. You can come in to visit anytime during regular visiting hours: 8:00 AM until 7:30 PM

2. Each visitor must complete the screening process upon arrival and information will be provided on COVID-19 signs and symptoms, use of PPE, masking, social distancing, hand hygiene, and general rules of visitation.

3. Visitors under the age of 18 are encouraged to call and make an appointment to visit, in advance, at (716) 551-7217.

General Visitation Guidelines:

  • Please do not visit if you are ill.
  • All visitors must be 18 years of age or older.
  • Visitors will be provided with a face mask upon entry to the facility and must wear the mask at all times while inside the facility.
  • Masks should only be removed to eat or drink.
  • If a visitor refuses to wear a mask, they will be asked to leave the facility.
  • Visitors should maintain recommended social distancing and regularly perform hand hygiene.

• Visitors should self-screen for contagious diseases before arriving at ECMC and before accessing patient care areas.

  • If you have been in contact with someone with COVID-19 or have had symptoms of COVID-19 within the past 14 days, please do not visit the hospital.
  • All visitors are required to comply with our screening checkpoint procedures. If you are unable to comply, you will not be permitted an in-person visit in the hospital.

• Visitors will be asked screening questions and have their temperature taken upon arrival.

• Visitors must stay in the patient’s room, or designated area identified by staff, unless directed by staff to leave the room.

Adam Duke is a digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of his work here.

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