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Officials at Highlands ARH set up a tunnel outside of the emergency department to screen visitors. Highlands and other ARH hospitals in the county are closed to most visitors because of the coronavirus.

Appalachian Regional Healthcare reports that it closed all of its facilities to visitors to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Effective March 18, the hospital chain reported there will be no visitation permitted at any of its hospitals, including Hazard ARH, Tug Valley ARH Medical Center, Highlands ARH in Prestonsburg, McDowell ARH in McDowell and ARH Our Lady of the Way in Martin, except for "end of life cases."

"Most visitor entrances into ARH facilities will be closed," a press release said. "There will be signs posted directing you to the appropriate entrances."

Only the following visitation exceptions will be made at these locations:

• Patients at the end of life

• Labor/Delivery — Only one person of the mother’s choosing will be allowed to accompany and visit. The visitor will undergo appropriate screening, which includes a fever check. No one with a fever greater than 100 degrees is allowed to visit.

• Pediatric patients — One responsible adult will be permitted to stay with pediatric patient, after appropriate screening, which includes a fever check. No one with a fever greater than 100 degrees is allowed to visit.

“We appreciate our communities’ understanding as we work to keep this virus away from our most vulnerable populations and the healthcare workers they depend on to care for them,” said ARH Chief Medical Office Maria Braman, MD. “We recognize that these restrictions can be disappointing to our patients and visitors, and we apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. The health and safety of our patients and care team are our top priority during this heightened time of illness.”

Dr. Braman said as the public is encourage to practice social distancing to prevent the potential spread of COVID-19, visitors of ARH patients are encouraged to use FaceTime, Skype and phone calls to visit with loved ones in the hospital.

To keep the public informed of ARH-specific COVID-19 information, ARH has set up a special website, ARHcovid19.com, and hotline, (606) 439-7100, which is open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week, to field questions regarding COVID-19 symptoms, testing and prevention.

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