St. Luke’s University Health Network updates visitor policy amid COVID-19 surge

Written by on December 9, 2021

St. Luke’s University Health Network updates visitor policy amid COVID-19 surge

By WLVR Staff
December 9, 2021

A surge in COVID-19 patients has prompted St. Luke’s University Health Network to update its visitor policy.

St. Luke’s announced it will limit hospital visitors to just two per patient for the duration of a hospital stay.

The move is in response to what hospital officials call a “dramatic” surge in coronavirus cases caused by people who refuse to be vaccinated.

As of Wednesday, Dec. 8, St. Luke’s said it was treating about 220 hospitalized COVID-19 patients across its 14 campuses – about the same number in the health network’s care at this time last year.

St. Luke’s officials say more than 80 percent of current COVID patients are unvaccinated.

“The current surge, largely driven by the unvaccinated population, is placing an enormous burden on our region’s health care system,” said Dr. Jeffrey Jahre, vice president of medical and academic affairs. “Unvaccinated COVID patients are filling up hospital beds and exhausting medical staff and limited resources.

“If Pennsylvania moves to restrict elective procedures, it will be due to the strain placed on hospitals by COVID patients who contracted the disease after refusing to be vaccinated,” Jahre said in a prepared statement. “Sadly, the current surge was avoidable. It is being driven by people who chose not to be vaccinated. Our statistics tell the story.”

St. Luke’s said hospital visitors are to wear masks and maintain social distance for the duration of the visit.

Visiting hours are noon to 8 p.m. and St. Luke’s highly recommends all visitors be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The change at St. Luke’s was announced as another of Pennsylvania’s largest health systems said it has run out of beds because of the surge. Geisinger said it is running at 110% capacity across its nine hospitals in central and northeastern Pennsylvania — also with largely unvaccinated patients who represent a quarter to well over half of all admissions.

Geisinger President and CEO Dr. Jaewon Ryu said he expects the situation to deteriorate in coming weeks, citing sharply rising case and test positivity numbers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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