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Sentara limits hospital visitation due to coronavirus

Sentara Healthcare hospitals and life care facilities are putting new hospital visitation rules into place in response to COVID-19.

NORFOLK, Va. — UPDATE: Sentara Healthcare provided this update to its visitor policy on March 16:

Effective Monday, March 16, all routine visiting is being suspended until the transmission of COVID-19 is no longer a threat to our patients, staff and community. Exceptions include:

  • Obstetric patients may have one partner and one birth support person accompany them.
  • Nursery and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) patients may have 2 parents, legal guardians, or caregivers who must remain in the room for the duration of the visit.
  • Patients who are at the end-of-life may have 2 visitors.
  • Patients with disruptive behavior, where a family member is key to their care, may have 1 visitor.
  • Patients who have altered mental status or developmental delays (where caregiver provides safety) may have 1 visitor.
  • Minors under the age of 18 may have 1 visitor, either a parent or a guardian.
  • Patients visiting the Emergency Department, may have 1 person with them only during their ED stay.

Visitors age 12 and younger aren't allowed in Sentara hospitals. Visitors allowed must stay in the patient's room the entire time of the visit. Once visitors leave a patient's room, they must leave the hospital immediately. 


Visitation to Sentara Healthcare hospitals and life care facilities will be more limited in response to concerns over the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Sentara said beginning Thursday, March 12, all hospitals would allow only two visitors per patient in the building at any given time. Visitors were asked not to come if they are coughing, sneezing or have a fever, or if they have traveled internationally.

There is no age restriction in the updated policy at hospitals. Senatara said it would adjust for "end-of-life" situations when family members would want to be at a patient's bedside. 

All Sentara Life Care nursing centers and rehabilitation centers as well as PACE and its assisted living village will limit visitors to two per day between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. Visitors will be screened for signs of illness and travel histories before being allowed to enter. The steps are to ensure the safety of some of the most vulnerable patients and residents as well as employees.

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In addition to the limited visitations, Sentara announced it is developing in-house COVID-19 testing, and it expects it will be able to conduct the testing at regional sites in the next few weeks.

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