As COVID cases rise in western Montana, both Missoula hospitals are reinstating their ‘no visitor’ policies as of July 1.

Chief Physician Executive at Providence St. Patrick Hospital, Dr. James McKay, explained the purpose of walking back the visitor policy at St. Pat’s.

“What we’re trying to do is keep our patients and our caregivers safe,” said. Dr. McKay. “It’s really a difficult decision. We’re really faced with an issue where there are really no good choices, just good decisions. We just feel like in order to make sure that we can maintain a place where patients can come in and be safe, then we need to restrict this, because the numbers we are seeing are going up.”

Dr. McKay further explained the change in policy.

“What we need to do is when patients come here that they feel that they’re in a safe environment, and that our caregivers are safe,” said McKay. “What we don’t want to have happen is having extra people in the hospital that may be asymptomatic and we get one of our nurses infected on the floor and they interact with other people and it may affect our ability to care people down the road when we have even more patients.”

Dr. McKay said the Providence pastoral staff will still be there to counsel with family members, and there are some devices that can be used fort communication.

“What we did earlier that did help was that we had a number of I Pads that were redesignated for this purpose,” he said. “The nurses have helped in the past to connect with their loved ones through the I Pads technology in the rooms and people found that to be quite helpful.”

Community Medical Center also sent out a press release with similar information.

Both hospitals said the exceptions to the ‘no visitor’ rule include:

Pediatrics, Women & Newborns, NICU, End of Life, and Cognitive issues or developmental delays.