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In reversal, Auburn hospital won't open to visitors this week
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HEALTH CARE

In reversal, Auburn hospital won't open to visitors this week

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Auburn Community Hospital

Auburn Community Hospital changed course Tuesday and announced it will not open for visitors this week. 

The hospital said Friday that it planned to resume visitation on Wednesday, July 1. There would be certain restrictions in effect, including a four-hour window for visitors and screenings for anyone entering the hospital. 

But after a meeting between hospital and medical leaders, visitation won't resume this week. In a statement, the hospital said it will reevaluate its plans next week. 

"Throughout this pandemic, ACH's first priority is to protect the health and safety of our patients and employees. As such, we think it is prudent to take some time to monitor the situation," said Scott Berlucchi, president and CEO of Auburn Community Hospital. 

The hospital's concerns, Berlucchi continued, are due to the upcoming Fourth of July holiday weekend. With more social gatherings expected, the hospital worries that the events and other behavior may lead to more people being exposed to COVID-19. 

The existing visitation policy will remain in place. Most visitors are prohibited, but there are exceptions for certain patients. For example, expectant mothers may have a support person with them. There are exceptions for pediatric patients, patients with special needs and patients in immediate end-of-life situations, according to the hospital. 

Auburn Community Hospital restricted visitation in mid-March when the COVID-19 outbreak began in New York. That action was taken before Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered a statewide prohibition on visitation at hospitals. 

Two weeks ago, Cuomo announced that hospitals could reopen to visitors as long as certain guidelines are followed. While some hospitals resumed visitation immediately or within a few days, Auburn took time to develop a plan for reopening to visitors

The hospital's plan, which was released on Friday, included visitation hours from 2 to 6 p.m. daily, a limit of one visitor per patient per day, health screenings and temperature checks, visitor logs to document who entered and exited the hospital and a requirement that all visitors wear masks while in the hospital. 

But for now, the plan to resume visitation is on hold. 

"We know this is not easy for patients and their families, but our priority must be keeping our patients, residents and employees safe and healthy," Berlucchi said. 

Politics reporter Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or robert.harding@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.

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Online producer and politics reporter

I have been The Citizen's online producer and politics reporter since December 2009. I'm the author of the Eye on NY blog and write the weekly Eye on NY column that appears every Sunday in the print edition of The Citizen and online at auburnpub.com.

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