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Phoebe Alters Visitation and Masking Rules


Tuesday, August 24, 2021 @ 12:51 p.m. -

Albany, Ga. – As of Tuesday morning, these were Phoebe’s COVID-19 numbers:

  • Total COVID-19 Patients in Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital – 177
  • Total COVID-19 Patients in Phoebe Sumter Medical Center – 28
  • Total COVID-19 Patients in Phoebe Worth Medical Center – 4
  • Total Inpatients Recovered – 2,628
  • Total Positive Deaths from Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital – 298
  • Total Positive Deaths from Phoebe Sumter – 76
  • Total Vaccines Administered – 60,055

“With 11 COVID-19 deaths in our health system since Friday, no one should question the severity of this current surge.  Thankfully, we have seen a substantial increase in demand for vaccines over the last couple of weeks, and now that the FDA has given full approval to the Pfizer vaccine, we hope that demand will increase even more.  That approval should give anyone who has been hesitant to get vaccinated, full confidence in the safety and efficacy of the vaccine,” said Scott Steiner, Phoebe Putney Health System President and CEO.  “Unfortunately, only 36% of Dougherty County residents are fully vaccinated, and that simply is not enough.  We must dramatically increase that percentage if we hope to put an end to the pandemic.  We fully support the new “Strive for 75” community initiative, aimed at reaching a 75% vaccination rate in Dougherty County in 75 days.  We encourage every unvaccinated citizen to do your part, reconsider and get the shot.” Steiner added.

Anyone can schedule a COVID-19 vaccination appointment at Phoebe clinics throughout southwest Georgia by calling 229-312-MYMD

The state is once again sending National Guard troops to assist with Phoebe’s COVID-19 response.  “The resources the state deployed during the first wave of the virus, were a godsend.  Dozens of National Guard troops worked alongside the Phoebe Family, providing invaluable support to our staff and our patients.  We are extremely grateful to Gov. Kemp and Gen. Carden for sending help our way again,” Steiner said.  Phoebe expects 10 troops – both clinical and support personnel – to arrive at its main campus tomorrow.

With the transmission rate in the community so high, Phoebe is adjusting its visitation rules to provide greater protection for patients, visitors and staff.  Beginning Thursday, Aug. 26, patients will only be allowed a total of two visitors per 24-hour period.  The current rule allowing only one visitor at a time remains in place. 

“We know how important it is for families to see their loved ones who are in the hospital, so we do not want to cut off visitation altogether.  However, the virus is spreading so rapidly right now, we must do all we can to limit the number of people coming into our facilities.  Once a visitor leaves the hospital, they will not be allowed to return until the following day, and – excluding typical exceptions such as births and end-of-life situations – no more than two people can visit any individual patient in one day.  We regret any inconvenience this may cause families, but we are enduring extraordinary circumstances, and we must put safety first,” said Dianna Grant, MD, Phoebe Putney Health System Chief Medical Officer. 

Also beginning Thursday, all visitors will be required to wear a surgical mask, covered by a cloth mask or held in place by a brace or fitter.  Since surgical masks do not always fit snugly, the CDC recommends double masking for better protection.  Phoebe employees will also be required to double mask in areas where higher levels of personal protective equipment are not mandated.  Surgical and cloth masks will be provided to patients and visitors at Phoebe facilities, for those who do not have their own.

Phoebe also strongly encourages people to wear masks in public places outside of medical facilities to help prevent the spread of the virus.  Multiple school systems in southwest Georgia have already had to alter schedules because of COVID-19 outbreaks.  Last week, more than two dozen area pediatricians and Phoebe physician leaders signed an open letter urging schools to require masks for all students, teachers staff and visitors.  In part, the letter read, “The science is clear.  Proper use of face masks significantly reduces the spread of the coronavirus.  Requiring masking will protect students and give schools the best opportunity to minimize interruptions, and we encourage all school systems in the area to consider mask requirements.”