Washington Regional reduces visitor hours and numbers due to new COVID-19 spike


With the recent spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, Washington Regional officials today announced changes to the hospital’s visitor policy.

Beginning Thursday, July 22, Washington Regional will reduce visitor hours, reduce the number of visitors allowed in most areas of the hospital, and close the cafeteria, coffee shop and gift shop to visitors.

The hospital will only allow one visitor per day between 1-7 p.m. for patients who are not infected with COVID-19. Visitors for patients who have tested positive for the virus may only enter when the patient is receiving end-of-life care, according to the updated visitor policy.

Birch Wright, hospital administrator and COO, said the number of people hospitalized locally is up over 530% this month, which is a rate that is non sustainable.

The state as a whole on Tuesday announced an additional 28 infected patients that had been admitted to hospitals across Arkansas. There are currently 815 people hospitalized with the virus, which is a 73% increase over this time last year when 471 patients were hospitalized statewide.

“Along with caring for an influx of COVID-19 patients, our hospitals are also caring for a continued increase of critical care patients,” said Wright. “We urge community members to get vaccinated if they have not already, to encourage family members and friends to get vaccinated and to be vigilant in public.”

The changes are part of the hospital’s second phase of its COVID-19 surge plan which is activated on an as-needed basis to allows the hospital to quickly move resources to areas of highest need.

“It also allows us to move to a team-based nursing approach where primary nurses have support from secondary nurses for non-specialized tasks,” Wright said. “These actions will allow us to expand our capacity, making it possible for us to care for an increased number of COVID and non-COVID patients.”

The number of COVID-19 cases in Arkansas reached 367,007 on Tuesday, which was an increase of 1,875 since Monday.

As of Tuesday, there were 11,475 active cases in the state, and the COVID-19 death toll was at 6,007.