With the significant growth of COVID-19 cases in our communities, Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Medical Center and Essentia Health-Duluth will restrict visitors of hospitalized patients beginning Friday, Nov. 20. Like other health care systems across the state and beyond, we are taking this step to keep our patients and staff safe during a time of high community prevalence. Visitors will not be allowed at our Duluth hospitals except in special circumstances and at the discretion of our 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: 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.

• Access to faith leaders: At Essentia 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. Essentia-employed chaplains are not subject to this visitor policy.

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.

These restrictions were made in accordance with our infectious-disease specialists, infection-prevention experts, nursing and physician leaders and our emergency-preparedness teams. We realize the additional restrictions will present an emotional hardship, but they are necessary with record numbers of COVID infections and hospitalizations across our region.

We will continue to use other means for connecting our patients with their loved ones, including technology.