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State Hospitals issue updated visitation rules

Warren State Hospital will also be implementing new visitation policies.

And, changes in policies means significant restrictions on visiting loved ones in state facilities.

The Department of Human Services have implemented a series of proactive measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health of residents and staff at Pennsylvania’s state centers, state hospitals, youth development centers and youth forestry camps.

All actions taken are consistent with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

“The Wolf administration is committed to serving vulnerable populations every day, and that commitment will not waiver in the face of an emergency,” said DHS Secretary Teresa Miller. “We will take any and all steps necessary to protect the health and safety of anyone in one of our state centers, state hospitals, youth development centers, or youth forestry camps, and I have the utmost confidence in the DHS employees who work a these facilities to continue providing professional and compassionate care even under stressful circumstances.”

All visitors are currently prohibited from all state facilities, and the policy will remain in place until guidance from public-health professionals changes.

However, there will be some exceptions.

Visits out of medical necessity, visits by probation departments or legal counsel and family or clergy visits approved by the facility director will be the only exceptions to the new rules.

Staff at the state hospitals and centers are currently encouraging and facilitating the use of phone and video technology whenever possible.This will ensure that residents have the opportunity to stay in touch with loved ones and maintain their connections to activities and interests outside of the facilities.

All six of Pennsylvania’s state hospitals will also be implementing the new policies as well. The other five state hospitals are Clarks Summit State Hospital in Lackawanna County, Danville State Hospital in Montour County, Norristown State Hospital in Montgomery County, and Torrance State Hospital in Westmoreland County. These hospitals provide comprehensive treatment services for people struggling with severe psychiatric and/or substance abuse disorders.

Other actions that have been implemented are updated emergency staff shortage plans and pandemic emergency plans, identifies quarantine areas and established quarantine plans, and posted signage at each facility with information from the PA Department of Health about COVID-19.

They also increased the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting door knobs, light switches and more. They also provided additional training to staff and residents about hand washing and other infection control measures.

And, they renewed inventory of cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment along with other needed supplies.

Trained supervisors and managers have also been trained to screen for COVID-19 symptoms.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health plans to keep all up to date information on their website.

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