DUE to the continuing rise in COVID-19 cases in the Derry City and Strabane District Council area, the Western Trust has taken the decision to suspend all visiting to Altnagelvin Hospital from today (Wednesday) until further notice.
Bob Brown, director of Nursing and Primary Care and Older Peoples Services said: "Our priority is to safeguard and protect people who are receiving care and also to protect our staff.
"Visiting at our hospitals on the Gransha site, the South West Acute Hospital and Omagh Hospital and Primary Care Complex remains unchanged at this time.
"The Trust will continue to review these arrangements in line with the prevalence of COVID-19 in the community."
Visiting will only be permitted under very special circumstances at Altnagelvin Hospital.
These circumstances include:
• Paediatrics/Neonatal: Any babies/children being treated can be accompanied by one parent or carer at a time.
• Maternity: One nominated partner may accompany a woman attending for the following scan appointments: Dating Scan, 19 week Anomaly Scan, and Fetal Medicine Scan. There are no visitors permitted in ante-natal or post-natal ward areas. A birthing partner can be present during active labour and up to 1 hour after birth.
• Palliative (end of life) Care: One visitor to be permitted to visit - duration and timing of the visit must be agreed in advance with the Ward Sister or Charge Nurse.
• Dementia and learning disability: Those patients with dementia or a learning disability who would benefit from having a loved one at their bedside, for a short period of time to be agreed with the Ward Sister or Charge Nurse.
Dr Brown added: "If you are permitted to visit under special circumstances you must wear a face covering, thoroughly wash your hands or use sanitiser when entering and exiting Altnagelvin Hospital.
"Please do not visit if you are feeling unwell, especially if you have a high temperature or new persistent cough or have a sudden loss of taste or smell. Children are not permitted to visit.
"The Trust acknowledges that this is a very difficult time for the public and we ask them to work with us to help minimise the spread of this virus.
"We would appeal to patients and visitors to respect our staff and the guidance they give you at all times. The Trust operates a ‘Zero Tolerance’ policy and we will not accept any form of abuse towards our staff.
"If you can, please arrange a ‘virtual visit’ with your relative or friend on a smartphone or tablet. Altnagelvin Hospital has access to free Wi-Fi and our staff can help set this up. Please be patient. Our staff will have to prioritise clinical work and patient care."
Patients are also asked to attend the Emergency Department alone.
Children under 16 receiving treatment can be accompanied by one parent for the duration of their care journey.
Vulnerable or elderly adults with communications difficulties can also be accompanied by a family member or carer.
This must be the same person for the duration of their journey within the Emergency Department.