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Citing communities rise in COVID-19 cases, Rush, NorthShore limiting visitors

The new policy takes effect Dec. 27.

NorthShore University HealthSystem, which includes Swedish Hospital, announced this week that it is closing its doors to most visitors — citing the rise in COVID-19 cases in the communities it serves.
NorthShore University HealthSystem, which includes Swedish Hospital, announced this week that it is closing its doors to most visitors — citing the rise in COVID-19 cases in the communities it serves.
Brian Rich/Sun-Times file

With COVID-19 cases surging in Illinois, Rush University Medical Center and NorthShore University HealthSystem will temporarily close their doors to most visitors.

At Rush, the changes take effect Sunday. NorthShore will impose its new rules beginning Monday.

Rush will not allow visitors in most inpatient and outpatient areas, a medical center spokesman said, though exceptions will be made for certain patient groups — including children and cancer patients. Patients will of course still have access to phones, FaceTime and Skype.

NorthShore no longer will allow “routine visitors,” but may allow some “on a case by case basis depending on the clinical circumstance and the patient’s specific situation,” according to a statement issued Friday.

“We understand how important it is for patients to have the support of loved ones while in our hospitals or at one of our other care facilities. However, a resurgence of COVID-19 infections in the communities we serve is prompting us to restrict visitors until community positivity rates improve. We do this to protect our vulnerable patients, our staff and our communities,” according to the statement.

All adult patients with appointments at NorthShore’s care centers are required to come alone; if a patient needs assistance, they may be accompanied by one care giver, the hospital system said. Children may be accompanied by one parent or legal guardian.

In addition to its other facilities, NorthShore has six hospitals: Evanston Hospital, Skokie Hospital, Glenbrook Hospital, Highland Park Hospital, Northwestern Community Hospital in Arlington Heights and Swedish Hospital on the Northwest Side.

UChicago Medicine has been limiting visitor access as well, and requiring health screenings for those visitors who are allowed. Northwestern Medicine did not immediately comment on any changes in visitor policy.

On Thursday, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported a new one-day record in COVID-19 cases — 18,942. The agency also reported 78 deaths.