Since the onset of the pandemic, healthcare facilities like Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center have had to adjust the visiting hours of their facilities as a way to ensure the safety of both their staff and their patients.

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These restrictions, while necessary, have meant that a lot of folks have had to pick and choose who would be the person to visit a loved one and for how long.

But as the holidays approach, the folks at Northern Light, recognizing the importance of being able to spend time with family and friends, and the healing benefits those contacts can hold, have made the decision to expand visiting hours through the holiday season.

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According to Sarah E. D. Joy, SHRM-SCP, Director of Patient Experience with Northern Light, these changes not only affect the number of visitors allowed in the rooms,  but also allows folks who are visiting the opportunity to come into the facility instead of waiting in their cars, once patients have been assigned to a room.

"We recognize the important role loved ones play in the healing process. Our patients asked for more time with their loved ones at the bedside, and we are pleased to give this gift to our community beginning this holiday season. As the weather turns colder, we are delighted to welcome up to two additional visitors to keep warm by the fireplace in our lobby or in our Maine Café as space allows while waiting to see their loved ones.”

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All visitors will still have to check in with the front desk, go through the Covid-19 screening process, and wear a mask during their entire visit. Visitors are still not permitted to eat or drink in patient rooms.

The new hours are already in effect and will remain until further notice.

Here's the updated visiting protocol at Northern Light EMMC:

Adult Inpatients: Visiting hours from 8 AM to 8 PM, 2 visitors bedside.

Emergency Department (ED): Once a patient has been assigned a room, one visitor is allowed bedside and/or in the waiting room.

End of Life: Visiting hours 24 hours a day, minimum 2 visitors a day (if space allows up to 4)

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Labor and Delivery: 2 adults can be present during delivery. After birth, siblings can visit per approval

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit: 24-hour visitation for both parents/ guardians. From 12 PM to 6 PM, one more visitor is permitted to be bedside. Siblings under the age of 18 may be permitted with approval.

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Pediatric Inpatients: 24-hour visitation for both parents/ guardians. From 8 AM to 8 PM, one more visitor is permitted to be bedside 8 am to 8 pm. Siblings under the age of 18 may be permitted with approval.

If you're going into the hospital for a procedure or to have surgery, one person can wait for you in the service area.

If you'd like more information on the expanded visitation policy at Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center, you can check their website, northernlighthealth.org/EMMCvisitors.

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