Northern Light AR Gould Hospital, along with its Continuing Care facility in Mars Hill, will reopen for visitors on Wednesday, March 17, on a limited basis.  

“This marks an important milestone in our response to the pandemic and underscores the role vaccines play in returning to some normalcy in our lives, particularly in our nursing home,” said Greg LaFrancois, president. “Now that our residents and staff are vaccinated, we feel confident they will be safe with visitors. Of course, we can only have visitors in our facilities if they follow all CDC guidelines.” 

Patients in the hospital’s medical/surgical, acute rehabilitation, and specialty intensive care units will now be able to have one visitor a day, age 16 or older.  Visiting hours on weekdays will be from 2 – 4 pm and on weekends will be from 10 am – 12 pm.  For the Women and Children’s Unit, the policy remains unchanged. Expectant mothers can have one support person who must plan to stay with her for the duration of the hospitalization.  Pediatric patients can have one parent/guardian at a time throughout their hospital stay. 

Patients in the Emergency Department can now also have a visitor or support person accompany them while they are receiving care there.   

Whether on an inpatient unit or in the Emergency Department, visitors must pass the screening process, remain masked at all times, follow hand hygiene rules, and stay in the room of the patient they are with. Those who do not follow these guidelines will be asked to leave the facility. 

“Safety remains our key priority. As much as we want our patients and residents to have their loved ones visit, we must remain vigilant for the safety of all of our patients, residents, and employees,” said LaFrancois. 

Even more exciting than the hospital visits is the reopening of Northern Light Continuing Care in Mars Hill for inside visits.  Residents can have one visitor, or two from the same household, for a 20-minute visit.  Just like at the hospital, visitors must be at least 16 years old, pass a screening, and follow all safety guidelines while in the facility. Visits are by appointment only and can be scheduled by calling 768-4964.

“This means so much to our residents and to their families,” said Kelly Lundeen, director of the facility.  “This past year has been so hard on them.  Most exciting of all is that, following CMS guidance, residents who have received their COVID vaccine can be in close distance to their loved ones, even including hugs.  This marks the first time in over a year now that our residents can be touched and embraced by a loved one.  Words cannot describe how significant this is.  It is life-changing for our folks.” 

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Visitors are still restricted in the outpatient offices to allow appropriate distancing in waiting rooms.  Exceptions include the parent/guardian of a pediatric patient as well as a visitor to accompany a patient with special needs.  Specific exemptions are also allowed in certain practices, such as oncology and obstetrics.  The full AR Gould visitor policy can be found online at www.northernlighthealth.org/arg or the hospital’s Facebook page. A printed version is available at hospital entrances as well as from the various Northern Light practices.

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