Conway Medical Center

Conway Medical Center in Conway on March 16, 2020. Photo by Janet Morgan/janet.morgan@myhorrynews.com

Conway Medical Center announced it would no longer allow visitors, effective 6 a.m. Thursday, to protect both patients and staff as COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on Horry County.

The hospital said exceptions will be made for end-of-life patients, and birthplace and pediatric patients are limited to one visitor.

CMC said it is screening all patients and employees prior to entering the hospital, including a temperature check and questions about symptoms and possible exposure to COVID-19.

Patients going to a physician's office or an appointment in the main building can only enter the facility through the patient services entrance or the Medical Arts Building entrance, the hospital said, adding that the main lobby entrance to the hospital is closed.

Emergency patients should still enter through the emergency department entrance and will be screened, CMC said. 

Only patients will be allowed in the hospital system's provider clinics and physician offices, and they'll be screened, the hospital said.

Tidelands Health also suspended hospital visitation, effective this morning. 

South Carolina has recently drawn national attention for its skyrocketing numbers of COVID-19 as many residents are still failing to follow basic DHEC and CDC guidelines like wearing a mask in public to protect their fellow citizens.

At-risk groups such as elderly people and those with pre-existing conditions are more susceptible to COVID-19 and are more likely to die if they contract the virus from people who are declining to take any precautions. 

Because COVID-19 has no cure and no vaccine, the spread can only be slowed down by how well residents follow basic guidelines. 

DHEC is recommending people wear masks in public, avoid large gathering, practice social distancing and stay home when sick. 

State Epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell on Wednesday said "as we continue to witness the rise in cases, if we work at strengthening the requirements for requiring use of masks one jurisdiction at a time… I do feel that we will not get to where we need to be quickly enough. On a statewide basis, it would be much more effective if there was something we could do statewide as quickly as possible." 

So far, she said, South Carolina is "going in the wrong direction." 

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