Parents of newborns under intensive care at Carilion are once again able to see their children. Officials say the moratorium on such visits was needed to develop safety procedures that protect patients, visitors and the NICU staff. WFIR’s Evan Jones has the story:

NEWS RELEASE: Effective Monday, April 20 at 11 a.m., Carilion’s NICU will reopen to limited visitation.

“A baby’s connection to loved ones is vitally important,” said Dr. Kimberly Dunsmore, chair of Carilion Children’s. “Our NICU providers have been working round the clock to reestablish visitation in a way that is safe for our patients and care teams.”

Patients will have two designated visitors (parents or legal guardians). In an effort to minimize the number of visitors on the unit at once, only one visitor per patient will be permitted per visit. Additionally, families will be assigned even or odd calendar days to visit during limited visitation hours (11 a.m. to 6 p.m. or 8 p.m. to midnight). Visitors can stay as long as they’d like during visitation hours. Once they leave the floor, their visit is over for the day.

“We are constantly evaluating the situation, which is evolving daily,” said Dr. Dunsmore. “While this system is more complex than our typical visitation guidelines, it is designed in a way that allows us to practice social distancing and minimize person-to-person contact on the unit.”

All staff and visitors will go through a NICU-specific screening process before entering the unit, consisting of a COVID-19 questionnaire and temperature check. While on the unit, staff and visitors must also wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).

“I know this has been a difficult journey for our families, and I so appreciate their patience, flexibility and resiliency during this time,” said Dr. Dunsmore. ” We’re all working together toward the same goal – protecting our babies and patients.”