UPDATED

Visitor guidelines updated at all Hunter New England Health facilities

Book an appointment: COVID-19 testing clinics are available across the Northern Tablelands, including in Inverell. Photo by Gareth Gardner.
Book an appointment: COVID-19 testing clinics are available across the Northern Tablelands, including in Inverell. Photo by Gareth Gardner.

UPDATE: After relaxing visitor restrictions to all Hunter New England Health (HNEH) facilities, a "difficult but necessary decision" was made to reintroduce a limit of one visitor at a time per patient.

A spokesperson for HNEH said the tightening of visitor rules was due to an increase in cases of community transmitted COVID-19 across the state in recent weeks.

"We know this may be challenging for our patients and their loved ones, however the safety of patients and staff is paramount and we are committed to taking the appropriate steps to protect them."

From Saturday, July 25 a patient at inpatient and community health facilities is allowed on visitor at a time.

Patients attending outpatient clinics can have one support person attend with them, only if required.

"Our aged care residents may also have one visitor, however, there are specific guidelines for these more vulnerable groups. All visitors to these facilities must also be vaccinated against influenza."

Visitors will continue to undergo a screening process, including routine temperature checking.

LAST WEEK: Hunter New England Health (HNEH) has updated its guidelines for visitors to hospital and inpatient facilities due to low transmission and high testing rates.

Two visitors may now attend maternity birthing, delivery, antenatal and postnatal hospital wards, inpatient services and residential aged care facilities.

"These two visitors can be different people, at different time intervals throughout the day. [However], no visitors are allowed into Hunter New England Health facilities if they have travelled to or transitted through the greater Melbourne metropolitan area in the last 14 days," A HNEH spokesperson said.

For outpatient appointments and clinics, including maternity antenatal and postnatal appointments, one support person is allow to attend with the patient.

All visitors to HNEH facilities will be put through a screening process before entering which includes routine temperature checking.

Those who are unwell with cold or flu-like symptoms, or who have been tested for COVID-19 and are awaiting results, should reschedule visits where possible.

"We ask that all visitors continue to adhere to hand-hygiene and infection control instructions from our staff, and maintain social distancing rules within all of our health facilities," the spokesperson said.

All New South Wales (NSW) Health facilities follow the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee advice regarding the use of face masks.

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A spokesperson for NSW Health said the wearing of face masks should be considered in situations where people are unable to maintain a 1.5m distance.

"If physical distancing is difficult to maintain, covering your face with a mask can provide some protection so long as it does not cause complacency or neglect of other measures.

"The main value of wearing a mask is to protect other people, if the wearer is unknowingly infected but has no symptoms or has symptoms but cannot avoid leaving home, for example, to have a COVID-19 test," the spokesperson said.

Those who choose the wear a mask, should know how to wear it properly.

HNEH has acknowledged exceptions to the guidelines may be necessary on compassionate grounds and will manage on a case-by-case basis.

Those who have questions about their individual situation are asked to contact a local clinician or health service directly.