VALDOSTA - Residents will have to answer a couple of questions and use a thermometer before visiting a hospital patient.

As the COVID-19 outbreak spreads, South Georgia Medical Center has added a screening process for visitors, additional visitation guidelines and "is curtailing surgeries," according to Johnny Ball, SGMC vice president of public affairs and marketing.

Visitors will have their temperatures taken, and be asked two questions: if they possess any respiratory symptoms such as cough or shortness of breath and if they have been in contact with anyone known or suspected of having the coronavirus in the last 14 days, according to an SGMC statement.

If the person answers "yes" to either question or has a temperature above 100, they will not be allowed to visit, according to the statement.

The amended guidelines further state no visitors will be allowed for patients under investigation or being tested for COVID-19 or in an infectious disease unit.

No visitors will be allowed to see patients in medical/surgical units and intensive care units, but one person may accompany an emergency room patient, with exception for "special considerations." Those considerations will be made for patients at the end-of-life, patients younger than 18 and patients with behavioral health needs or developmental delays, according to the release.

Additionally, one visitor will be allowed for pediatric and youth-care patients; two visitors will be allowed in the labor delivery department during birth; and one visitor will be allowed after birth in the post-partum department

SGMC said it strongly advises against visitors older than 70 with chronic health issues.

In terms of "curtailing unnecessary surgeries," Ball described the designation as non-essential, non-urgent invasive surgeries that could be delayed; elective procedures such as cosmetic, cataract and dental surgeries. 

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