Carilion reopens NICU after closing unit to visitors due to COVID-19 concerns

Only parents, legal guardians allowed to visit

ROANOKE, Va. – After closing its doors earlier this month, Carilion Clinic has announced that it will reopen its NICU to certain visitors.

The NICU will be reopened Monday at 11 a.m., according to a statement from the hospital. The initial closure went into effect on April 7.

“A baby’s connection to loved ones is vitally important,” said Dr. Kimberly Dunsmore, chair of Carilion Children’s. “Our NICU providers have been working round the clock to reestablish visitation in a way that is safe for our patients and care teams.”

Officials say patients can have two designated visitors, either parents or legal guardians, and only one visitor per patient will be allowed per visit.

Families will be assigned even or odd calendar days to visit during limited visitation hours from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. or 8 p.m. to midnight, according to the statement. During those hours, families may stay as long as they’d like but once they leave the floor, their visit is over for the day.

We are constantly evaluating the situation, which is evolving daily,” said Dr. Dunsmore. “While this system is more complex than our typical visitation guidelines, it is designed in a way that allows us to practice social distancing and minimize person-to-person contact on the unit.

Officials say all visitors will go through a NICU-specific screening process before visiting, including a COVID-19 questionnaire and temperature check. While in the NICU, visitors and staff will also be required to wear the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).

“I know this has been a difficult journey for our families, and I so appreciate their patience, flexibility and resiliency during this time,” said Dr. Dunsmore. " We’re all working together toward the same goal — protecting our babies and patients."

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