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UTMB opening testing sites, adjusting policy in response to increasing COVID patients

GALVESTON, Texas – The highly transmissible Delta variant of the COVID virus is spreading rapidly in our region. For the safety of patients, employees and visitors, the University of Texas Medical Branch will be making changes to its visitor policy and has opened new COVID testing sites.

“We have seen a worrying increase in the number of COVID patients across all of our hospitals,” said Dr. Gulshan Sharma, chief medical and clinical innovation officer at UTMB. “We as doctors and nurses have seen this before and we know how to best treat our patients but we need our community to help us as well. We need everyone to get vaccinated if they haven’t yet, to get tested if they feel sick and to wear a mask in indoor spaces.”

The highly transmissible Delta variant is leading to the surge in cases. In the past week, the number of COVID patients in UTMB hospitals has increased from about 50 to over 90. At the same time, vaccination rates remain low leading UTMB leaders to take the following steps.

The following COVID testing sites are available in Galveston and Brazoria County:

COVID Testing Sites

  • The easiest way to get a COVID test is by making an appointment at utmb.edu/covid-19 or by calling (832) 632-6731. You can make an appointment for only a test or to see a doctor and be tested at the same time.
  • Walk-in COVID-19 tests are also available at all UTMB Urgent Care sites in Galveston, Texas City, League City, Angleton and Alvin. For locations and hours of operation, go to utmb.us/4fg
  • Additionally, UTMB is reopening a COVID testing site at the Primary Care Pavilion in Galveston, 400 Harborside Drive Galveston, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Test results are usually available within 24 hours.

The following updated visitor policies will go into effect at 5 p.m., July 26, for all UTMB hospitals, emergency departments and clinics, until further notice:

Adult Medical/Surgical Areas and ICUs:

  • COVID-infected or COVID-suspected patients will NOT be allowed any visitors, except under exceptional circumstances.
  • For all other patients, a maximum of one healthy visitor per day, age 18 years or older, is allowed.
  • Visitation hours are now from 5 to 8 p.m.
  • Masks covering the mouth and nose MUST be worn at all times by all individuals within the building.

Women’s, Infants’ and Children’s Units:

  • In the Labor & Delivery Unit and Mother-Baby Unit, one healthy partner, spouse or other individual chosen by the mother may stay continuously with the laboring patient.
  • In the Neonatal ICU, the mother and one additional healthy adult caregiver (designated by the mother) may visit the patient. No other visitors are allowed in the Neonatal ICU.
  • In the General Pediatrics Unit and Pediatric ICU, patients may have one designated primary caregiver with them at any given time.

Emergency Department:

  • To ensure the ability of patients to distance in busy waiting rooms, no visitors will be allowed in UTMB emergency departments, with the exception of one healthy adult caregiver who can accompany a patient under the age of 18 or a patient who needs special assistance.

Clinics:

  • One healthy caregiver is permitted for a pediatric patient or patient needing special assistance.

Compassionate Care Exceptions:

  • Compassionate care exceptions may be made on a case-by-case basis. Exceptions will be granted for extenuating circumstances, such as end-of-life care.