HCA Houston Healthcare implements new visitor policies at its hospitals

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The HCA Houston Healthcare released new visitor policies at its hospitals Friday, in response to several coronavirus cases in the Houston area.

The new visitor policies will be implemented at its 13 hospitals in efforts to protect staff and patients at each facility.

"While we understand the importance of in-hospital patients having friends, family and loved ones by their side, this measure is a necessary step in order to protect our patient and colleagues," Dr. Mujtaba Ali-Khan said in a statement the center released Friday.

The policies are effective immediately. Each HCA Houston Healthcare hospital will allow two visitors at a time per patient. Visiting hours are from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The new policy will allow one visitor to stay overnight with laboring mothers. NICU and pediatric patients.

"Our best advice is to limit visitation during this time," said Ali-Khan, the chief medical officer.

Entry points at each hospital will now have an employee to screen visitors based on the health system's protocols for identifying coronavirus. The screening process will also include a series a questions about recent travel and current health.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said in a tweet he is encouraging Houstonians to limit international travel for now, but also not to be paralyzed by fear.

Here are the total cases in our area:

Harris County- 2 Confirmed

Harris County -1 Presumptive
Houston-1 Confirmed, 1 Presumptive
Fort Bend County-1 Presumptive

Where are the coronavirus cases in the U.S.?

As the number of cases grows, health experts are working to keep myths about the virus at bay.

"The CDC specifically states on their website that people should not be wearing masks or buying masks right now if they're healthy because of several reasons. Number one: the CDC recommends wearing masks only if you're sick, and you should be staying home if you're sick," said Dr. Gabriella Bowden, associate professor of microbiology at University of Houston - Downtown.

If you want to learn more, a Children's Health Summit will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at the Harris County Department of Education on 6300 Irvington Blvd.

Then at noon, UTMB's Galveston campus will host a COVID-19 town hall.

Symptoms of COVID-19 are distinct, but somewhat similar to the flu, and include high fever, deep chest cough and difficulty breathing.

The county also released the following list of precautions you can take to keep you and your family safe.
  • Do not go to the emergency room unless essential. Emergency rooms need to be able to serve those with the most critical needs. If you have symptoms like cough, fever, or other respiratory problems, contact your regular doctor first.
  • Practice healthy hygiene habits every day to help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses like COVID-19.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes. If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands. Remember to wash your hands after coughing or sneezing.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

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