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AMC restricts visitation again due to COVID

Lake Placid emergency room hours trimmed

The entrance of the Lake Placid Health and Medical Fitness Center is seen here on Tuesday, March 3. (News photo — Andy Flynn)

SARANAC LAKE — Patient visitation at Adirondack Health’s facilities is again limited as the number of COVID-19 cases in Franklin and Essex counties continues to rise.

Adirondack Health announced the renewed restrictions on Friday, Nov. 13. It has imposed restrictions on visitation a few times in the past few months to its facilities: Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake, the Lake Placid Health and Medical Fitness Center and the Mercy Living Center in Tupper Lake, plus clinics in Keene, Tupper Lake and Saranac Lake.

There are certain situations in which exceptions to the visitation restrictions will be made, allowing one support person to visit. Exceptions may be made for patients in childbirth labor and delivery, pediatric patients, those deemed essential to the care and treatment of a patient such as a caregiver, those facing end-of-life situations, family care conferences deemed necessary to facilitate significant care decisions, emergency room patients, and ambulatory surgery patients after they’re discharged if it’s deemed necessary for ongoing care, according to a news release from Adirondack Health.

Visitors who are allowed to enter will be required to wear personal protective equipment and adhere to the facility’s rules. Personal protective equipment will be provided. Only visitors over 18 years old will be allowed, though the hospital may make a rare exception depending on the situation.

Visitation at outpatient clinics will depend on the level of support needed for patients, according to Adirondack Health spokesman Matt Scollin.

The decision to restrict visitation is usually more of a judgment call made by administrators and clinical staff than an effect of hitting certain metrics. The decision is made taking into consideration things like how many cases of COVID-19 are within the community and the facilities themselves, according to Scollin.

Visitation at the Mercy nursing home, however, is largely determined by state Department of Health guidelines at the time.

Visitors are allowed to visit Mercy, but guidelines have to be followed, per the latest DOH guidance. Only a few visitors are allowed inside each day — the number can’t exceed 10% of the number of residents at the home, and no more than two visitors per resident are allowed at any time. Visitors under 18 have to be accompanied by an adult. A visitor has to have received a negative COVID-19 test within seven days of their visit. All visitors have to wear full PPE, and the visits are supervised by Mercy staff to ensure compliance with public health guidance. Outdoor visits are encouraged by the DOH, though winter weather will likely make that difficult in the coming weeks.

Visitation is allowed unless a positive case has been identified among staff members or residents. As of Nov. 13, there were zero positive cases of COVID-19 among Mercy staff or residents, according to Scollin.

Lake Placid ER

Adirondack Health also announced new hours for the emergency department at the Lake Placid Health and Medical Fitness Center.

Starting Monday, Nov. 16, the emergency room hours are now 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day, three fewer hours.

The emergency room hours may be scaled up to 24 hours if needed, according to a news release from Adirondack Health.

The change is expected to save the hospital $300,000 in 2021. The realignment follows years of low patient volume, exacerbated this year by the COVID-19 pandemic and state directives to limit capacity and temporarily shut down elective procedures in the event of a surge of coronavirus-positive patients.

AMC’s emergency department in Saranac Lake will still be open 24 hours per day, every day.