13:59 PM

Shepherd Center Announces Temporary Stop of Most Patient Visitation and Visitor Access

Hospital makes difficult decision amidst expected significant increase in COVID-19 cases in Georgia and the U.S.

With the expected significant increase in COVID-19 cases in Georgia and the U.S. in the next several weeks, Shepherd Center had to make a difficult, heartbreaking decision to temporarily stop most patient visitation and visitor access (exceptions listed below) to the hospital effective Monday, April 6.

Many other Atlanta and U.S. hospitals have already had to make the same decision. It was a last resort for Shepherd Center as a specialized rehabilitation hospital treating people with spinal cord injury, brain injury, stroke, multiple sclerosis, spine and chronic pain, and other neuromuscular conditions, said Sarah Morrison, PT, MBA, MHA, president and CEO.

It is Shepherd Center’s top priority to protect the safety of its patients, their families and our staff during this crisis and always, Morrison said. As of April 5, 2020, Shepherd Center has zero COVID-19 positive patients, and the hospital is working diligently to keep the virus from infecting patients, their family members and our staff. Shepherd Center will reinstate visitor access as soon as conditions improve.

I know I cannot fully comprehend how our patients and their family members feel about this change during the difficult time they are already experiencing,” Morrison said. “But with every decision we make, we are trying to do the best thing for our patients and those who love them.

“I know our patients benefit from the presence of their family members,” Morrison added. “I want them there. But right now, we hope that we can help our patients and their family members understand why it is safest that they are not together physically during this pandemic. We will assist family members with staying in touch with their patients through FaceTime and other apps, and our staff will stay in touch with families regularly. We are also providing free meals twice a day to family members staying in our on-campus Woodruff Family Residence Center. We hope so much this pandemic will be over soon.”

Shepherd Center is making several exceptions to its visitation and access policy. The hospital is allowing:

  • one parent, or other designated person, to visit patients who are age 18 and under.
  • up to two designated family members/caregivers into the hospital to participate in family training as determined and scheduled by their treatment team.
  • and for newly admitted patients, one designated family member/caregiver can visit for up to two days (day of admission and the next weekday).

In all of these cases, the visitors will be screened (including a temperature check) for COVID-19 at the entrance and required to show a photo ID. Managers have been screening staff, as well, but due to the unavailability of no-touch thermometers that Shepherd Center ordered weeks ago, the hospital was not able to take staff members’ temperatures at the entrance until April 2. Now, using donated no-touch thermometers, it is a daily occurrence.

More information on Shepherd Center’s actions related to COVID-19 is available at shepherd.org/COVID19, a web page the hospital is updating frequently as new information becomes available.