As coronavirus cases continue to rise across the United States, Aiken Regional Medical Centers is implementing additional visitor restrictions to shield patients and staff from the pandemic.

Beginning Wednesday at 6 p.m., according to a news release, no visitors will be allowed for inpatient areas with the following exceptions:

• A patient is at the end of life.

• Emergency Department patients are limited to one visitor who can stay in the department but is no longer permitted in the hospital once the patient is taken to an inpatient unit. If the visitor leaves the Emergency Department, he/she may not return.

• Labor and Delivery/Postpartum will allow one overnight visitor.

• Surgery patients can be picked up outside of Outpatient Registration.

These exceptions do not apply to children under 18 years of age, who are not permitted inside the hospital or outpatient facilities. Only children seeking medical care are exempt from restrictions. 

Aiken Regional Medical Centers CEO Jim O'Loughlin said safety is the hospital's "top priority" as these restrictions go into place, according to the news release. 

“We continue to monitor and implement the most recent CDC guidelines so we can continue to provide quality care to our patients,” O’Loughlin said. “As the guidelines continue to evolve, our team is taking all necessary steps to ensure the safety of our patients, associates and the community in which we serve.”

No COVID-19 cases have been detected at Aiken Regional, according to the news release. The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control has detected 47 cases in South Carolina as of Tuesday. None of the cases were in Aiken County. 

The main entrance of the hospital will remain closed until further notice. An alternate entrance has been opened on the emergency side of the hospital, where a screening station has been set up in order to detect any symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever.  

Any visitor that is permitted to enter the hospital is subject to screening upon arrival.

Other restrictions going into effect include the suspension of all students and hospital volunteers. Students and volunteers are not permitted to enter any hospital facilities at this time. 

All vendors, with the exception of those essential to maintaining patient care quality, are also suspended from the facilities. 

Outpatient appointments are limited to the patient only with no visitors; others should remain in their vehicles.

If a parent is bringing a sick child to the hospital or outpatient facility, parents must accompany that child alone. Alternate arrangements must be made for other children not seeking medical care. 

The screenings and restrictions include Aiken Regional Medical Centers, Aurora Pavilion Behavioral Health Services, Business and Industry, Cancer Care Institute of Carolina, Diabetes and Nutrition Teaching Center, Hitchcock Rehab Services (Adult and Children), Palmetto Pediatric Center, Southside Imaging, Surgery Center of Aiken, Women’s Breast Health and Imaging, and the Wound Healing Institute of Carolina.

All in-person visitation at Aurora Behavioral Health Pavilion has been suspended with limited critical exceptions.

University Hospital in Augusta has also initiated visitor restrictions to protect patients, staff and the community. They include:

• Visiting hours from noon to 5 p.m. only.

• One visitor per patient – immediate family or significant other.

• No visitors under 18.

• Limited entry points into the hospital.

Additionally, beginning Wednesday, visitors will be asked questions regarding their health before entering the hospital and may be refused entry if they have any of the following:

• Cough.

• Shortness of breath.

• Fever.

• Traveled out of the country or been in contact with someone who has.