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Syracuse hospital one of 16 statewide to try increasing visitations

St. Joseph's Hospital

St. Joseph's Hospital Health Center in Syracuse is one of 16 hospitals across the state taking part in a pilot program to determine the best way to reopen hospitals to visitors. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday the pilot program will allow limited visitors in hospitals.

"It is terrible to have someone in the hospital, and that person is isolated, not able to see family and friends. I understand the health reasons, you're afraid of the virus spread," Cuomo said.

Cuomo hopes this two-week pilot program can assess ways to bring visitors into the hospital safely.

AnneMarie Czyz, chief nursing officer at St. Joseph's, said they'll be following some state guidelines as they hammer out a protocol for visitors.

"One visitor at a time, and visitors would be asked and held to our personal protective equipment, and PAB such as and strict hand hygiene protocols and demonstrate they can adhere to those before entering any patient care space."

Czyz said the goal is to see if this is an effective way of allowing visitors or if more changes need to be made.

"The idea is to take these good guidelines and implement them and evaluate how feedback is from patients and caregivers, and continuing to progress visitation forward based on understandings of how the outcomes went," she said.

Czyz said friends and family will have to make a request through the hospital to visit patients, and St. Joseph's is working out the policies, as well as hours of visitation and temperature and symptom screenings. She said the hospital wants to get the program going as soon as possible, but there's no start date yet.