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Essentia Health restricts hospital visitors

Essentia Health-St. Mary’s in Detroit Lakes is restricting visitors of hospitalized patients beginning Monday, Nov. 23.

With the significant growth of COVID-19 cases in the local area, Essentia Health-St. Mary’s in Detroit Lakes is restricting visitors of hospitalized patients beginning Monday, Nov. 23.

Essentia is taking this step to keep patients and staff safe during a time of high community prevalence, according to a press release. Visitors will not be allowed in the hospital except in special circumstances and at the discretion of Essentia care teams.

Hospitalized patients with COVID or suspected of having COVID will not be allowed visitors except for pediatric patients, patients for whom a support person has been deemed essential, obstetric patients and patients receiving end-of-life care.

For non-COVID patients, visitors will be allowed under the following circumstances:

  • Emergency department: One adult visitor is permitted for vulnerable adults, trauma or other patients requiring communication to a health care team on their behalf. Two adult visitors are permitted for pediatric patients.
  • Pediatric units: Two adult visitors are permitted per patient.
  • Labor and delivery units: One support person — plus a certified doula (for labor and delivery only) — for each mom.
  • Neonatal intensive care units (NICU): Two parents are permitted to visit at a time.
  • Surgery: One visitor is permitted for a vulnerable adult or other patient requiring communication to the health care team on their behalf.
  • Care conferences should be done through virtual methods if possible. If visitors are needed, up to two will be allowed during the conference.
  • At end of life, only two visitors at a time will be allowed. Visitors can be rotated and will be required to wait outside the facility until it is their time to see the patient. Decisions regarding any variance requested for end-of-life visitation will be made by unit leadership and a patient’s primary physician. Visitors under 18 are only allowed in end-of-life circumstances.

Essentia-employed chaplains are not subject to this visitor policy, and at facilities with Essentia-employed chaplains, chaplains are available for ritual, support, prayer and assisting with virtual and phone connections with family and a patient’s clergy or religious leader. A patient’s pastor or religious leader can visit non-COVID patients as long as the visit is not disruptive to patient care. Community clergy and religious leaders may visit patients with COVID only at end-of-life or for compassionate care and these visits should be scheduled in advance.
Special considerations for individuals and other exceptions may exist. These exceptions will be agreed upon by a patient’s care team.


All visitors are required to remain in the patient’s room and are expected to wear a mask and eye protection at all times. Anyone who is sick or showing symptoms of COVID won’t be allowed to visit patients.

In addition, Essentia Health will no longer allow visitors in the hospital cafeteria. Those hospital visitors who are allowed to visit under the policy exceptions will be able to order trays of food to the hospital room.

At this time, visitors are still allowed in the clinic setting. Patients should limit bringing another person with them to appointments as much as possible and limit this to those who require assistance for their visit.

These restrictions were made in accordance with infectious-disease specialists, infection-prevention experts, nursing and physician leaders and emergency-preparedness teams. They are necessary with record numbers of COVID infections and hospitalizations across the region.

"We realize the additional restrictions will present an emotional hardship, and Essentia Health will continue to use and support other means for connecting our patients with their loved ones, including technology," states the release.

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