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Area hospitals see some pushback as COVID protocols continue file photo
POCATELLO — As COVID restrictions are loosening up around the state, some regional hospitals have seen an uptick in challenges over their safety protocols.
One such hospital is Portneuf Medical Center (PMC), which, according to spokeswoman Mary Keating, has had patients and visitors argue with National Guardsman handling screening since the Pocatello City Council lifted the city-wide mask mandate on April 26.
“There’s definitely been enough questions that it is time to remind the community that we still are focused on providing the highest level of care in the safest way we can. And that is still adhering to CDC guidelines,” Keating told
Along with mask requirements, Keating said that PMC has received frustration from a “select few” over visitor restrictions. PMC is currently limiting visitors to one per patient.
The issues go beyond the main hospital, she added, saying that external clinic locations have also been forced to deal with the same issues.
Like Portneuf, Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center (EIRMC) in Idaho Falls, is sticking to its safety protocols despite Bonneville County lifting its mask mandate in February.
“We occasionally have visitors who would prefer not to wear masks,” EIRMC spokeswoman Coleen Nieman told “But they’re not allowed in our building. It’s a nonnegotiable safety protocol.”
Most visitors understand the requirement and comply for the most part, Nieman said. For those who don’t, the hospital offers virtual visiting sessions.
With visitation policies, EIRMC is also enforcing a one visitor-per-patient policy in most cases. Pediatric visits and birthing mothers are allowed two visitors, with all visitors being identified at the onset of the visit in all cases.
EIRMC, like PMC, is continuing to segregate COVID and suspected COVID patients from all other patients, while also requiring social distancing in common areas.
Visitation restrictions at Community Hospital in Idaho Falls, are a bit looser for patient treatments not involving COVID.
“In order to reduce the chance of the virus spreading, we are still not allowing visitors for patients being treated for COVID-19,” spokeswoman Natalie Podgorski tells in an email. “We are allowing up to two visitors for patients who are hospitalized for other conditions.”
Like the others, Community Hospital is continuing its requirements for social distancing and face coverings, though, according to Podgorski, they have received no notable pushback.
Neither has Bingham Memorial Hospital in Blackfoot, according to spokeswoman Valerie Jewett, who said that the hospital is continuing its own masking and social distancing requirements.
Visitations at Bingham Memorial are limited to two visitors per patient, with all visitors required to be at least 18 years of age.
Keating said that she appreciates the need to return to normalcy, but added that until further notice, PMC, like other hospitals in the area, will stick to CDC safety protocols.
“We want a gentle reminder to the community,” she said. “While some restrictions are being loosened, we at the hospital are following the guidelines that we’ve set.”
The post Area hospitals see some pushback as COVID protocols continue appeared first on East Idaho News.

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