Due to the significant growth of COVID-19 cases in the area, Essentia Health-St. Mary's Medical Center and Essentia Health-Duluth will restrict visitors of hospitalized patients starting Friday. The changes were announced in a news release Thursday.

Visitors will not be allowed at Duluth hospitals except in special circumstances and at the discretion of hospital care teams.

COVID-19 patients will not be allowed visitors except for pediatric patients, patients for whom a support person has been deemed essential, obstetrics patients and patients receiving end-of-life care.

For non-COVID-19 patients, visitors will be allowed under the following circumstances:

  • Emergency department — One adult visitor for vulnerable adults, trauma or other patients requiring communication to a health care team on their behalf. Two adults are permitted for pediatric patients.
  • Pediatric units — Two adult visitors are permitted per patient.
  • Labor and delivery — One support person plus a certified doula per mother.
  • Neonatal intensive care units — Two parents are permitted to visit at a time.
  • Surgery — One visitor is permitted for a vulnerable adult.
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At the end of life, only two visitors will be allowed at a time. Visitors can be rotated and will be required to wait outside the facility until it is their time to see the patient. Visitors under age 18 are only allowed in end-of-life circumstances.

At Essentia facilities with Essentia-employed chaplains, they are available for ritual, support, prayer and assisting with virtual and phone connections with family and a patient’s clergy or religious leader. Essentia-employed chaplains are not subject to the visitor policy.

All visitors are required to remain in the patient’s room and are expected to wear a mask and eye protection at all times. Anyone who is sick or showing symptoms of COVID-19 won’t be allowed to visit patients.

"We realize the additional restrictions will present an emotional hardship, but they are necessary with record numbers of COVID infections and hospitalizations across our region," the release said.