A new color-based visitation system will inform hospital visitors of the rules for visiting loved ones at a Valley Health hospital during high-risk times such as the COVID-19 pandemic and flu season.

On Monday, Valley Health launched the new three-tiered approach to hospital and outpatient facility visitation across the health system, which includes Warren Memorial, Shenandoah Memorial and Winchester Medical Center.

The three colors from highest to lowest risk are red, yellow and green. The current level is red.

This means only one or two designated people may visit each patient at the hospital, according to regulations outlined at Valley Health’s website, valleyhealthlink.com/patients-visitors/for-visitors.

The health system enacted the Level Red Visitation Policy because of “the high risk of transmission at this time, as determined by an algorithm that combines health system data with public health data and current trends,” a Valley Health news release explains.

Though it currently applies to the risk of transmission during the pandemic, Theresa Trivette, Valley Health’s new chief nursing executive, said on Monday that it can also be used for other health risks as they occur.

She said that each of Valley Health’s six regional hospitals had its own protocols for handling visitation during high-risk periods, but now the health system has one standardized set of guidelines.

“Green would be [an] ideal state,” Trivette said.

But even during the red level, she said that hospital patients will be allowed at least one visitor.

The new guidelines are designed for designated care partners, primarily family members or trusted friends who are 18 or older and are chosen by the patient to be an active part of their care team.

The implementation follows many discussions that Valley Health personnel had following the initial days of the pandemic when hospital staff didn’t know how serious the risk might be and weren’t allowing visitors in many situations.

This resulted in a lot of stress for patients who could only communicate with their loved ones by phone or through video calls.

Part of the thought process became, “How do we make sure that the patient has their person?” Trivette said.

Regardless of visitation levels, she said, “We won’t restrict the patient from having their one care partner with them, even if they have COVID.”

For more details about the Level Red Visitation Policy, visit valleyhealthlink.com/visitation or call 540-636-0300.

Contact Josette Keelor at jkeelor@nvdaily.com