Avera Health closes hospitals to visitors

A major retail health care provider is closing its hospitals to most visitors to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The order will take effect Wednesday, March 25, and includes all hospitals in the Avera Health system.

According to a press relief, limited visitors will be allowed for end-of-life, births, NICU and pediatric cases.

Staff are setting up virtual visitation at several of its hospitals. Avera is encouraging family members to connect with patients using phones, text, social media or video chat.

Avera Chief Medical Officer David Erickson said the top priority is to protect everyone, especially the most vulnerable.

"Similar to other hospitals across the nation, we are taking these necessary steps to protect our patients and staff. We ask for the cooperation and understanding of the public – we as a health system must act responsibly and do everything we can to minimize the spread of this virus,” Erickson said.

Avera is also asking patients to bring guests to appointments s except in certain cases such as when the patient is a minor.

You can find more information on Avera's COVID-19 website.