El Paso’s major hospitals are prohibiting visitors effective Monday as part of the growing effort to slow the spread of coronavirus.

The county’s three major systems — The Hospitals of Providence, Las Palmas Del Sol Healthcare, El Paso Children’s Hospital and University Medical Center — announced the change in a rare joint statement.

“While we understand the importance of having the support of loved ones during a hospital visit or stay, we must prioritize the health and safety of our patients and caregivers during this unprecedented pandemic. We encourage support persons to use alternate methods of communication to stay in contact with loved ones, such as phone calls, video chats or texting,” the hospitals said.

Exceptions will be made for laboring and post-partum patients; patients with disabilities or impairments or who are elderly; patients in the neonatal ICU and pediatric units; patients requiring surgery or other emergency or trauma-related medical procedures; and patients requiring end-of-life care. One caregiver 18 years or older may accompany these patient populations.

All visitors must pass our previously established health-screening criteria upon entrance into the facility. No visitors will be allowed to wait in the lobby or waiting rooms.

At El Paso Children’s Hospital and Providence Children’s Hospital, only one parent or guardian will be allowed at a time and rotation of parents and guardians should be limited. 

Robert Moore is the founder and CEO of El Paso Matters. He has been a journalist in the Texas Borderlands since 1986.