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March 12 Update

Clarification: Sentara Hospitals Visitation Policy

Sentara has updated its hospital visitation policy effective today. Family members and friends are not allowed to gather in waiting rooms.

  • We are limiting routine hospital visitation to two visitors per patient in the building at any given time.
  • There is no age restriction on the updated visitation policy.
  • We will adjust for end-of-life situations when families want to gather at the bedside.
  • Stay in touch with loved ones via video options, telephone or email rather than in-person contact. This practice will reduce potential exposures for patients and other visitors and help us keep our hospitals safe.
  • Stay home if you are coughing, sneezing or have a fever, or you have traveled overseas.

Sentara Life Care Facilities Visitation Policy

To protect our most vulnerable residents, Sentara Life Care nursing centers, rehabilitation centers, PACE and our assisted living village have the following visitation policy:

  • Limit visitation to two persons in total per day between 8:00AM and 7:00PM.
  • All visitors to senior facilities will be asked screening questions about recent travel, current state of health and to sign a visitor book upon entry and exit.

Sentara College of Health Sciences Suspends In-Person Classes

Sentara College of Health Sciences in Chesapeake has suspended in-person classes.

  • Online learning will continue, as well as skills labs, simulations, and clinical rotations in hospitals.
  • Student questions can be directed to and to 757-388-5846.

Optima Health to Waive Member Co-pays for Televisits and Prescribed Testing

Optima Health is handling the COVID-19 testing as preventive care for infectious diseases screening. Optima Health is helping members manage testing and treatment for COVID-19 by:

  • Waiving out-of-pocket member costs associated with COVID-19 diagnostic testing at any in-network lab location for all commercial, Medicaid or Medicare Advantage members.
  • Offering free telehealth visits to members (e.g., no member co-pays or cost-share) for in-network virtual care partners. Telehealth options include Sentara Video Visits between 7:00AM and 7:00PM and our 24-hour partner organization, MDLIVE.

Recommended Best Practices

If you have a respiratory illness that includes a fever, cough, and/or shortness of breath AND you meet travel or exposure criteria for COVID-19:

  1. Call your healthcare provider to determine the safest screening method for you. If you are a Sentara patient, this may include a video visit.
  2. Please consider a virtual visit to determine if you need further screening or testing. Many insurance plans, including Optima Health, will cover the member cost of testing for COVID-19. Options include Sentara Video Visits or MDLIVE.
  3. If you have a respiratory illness that includes a fever, cough, and/or shortness of breath AND you meet travel or exposure criteria for COVID-19, AND you do not have a primary care physician, cannot participate in a virtual visit, or a visit has recommended further screening or testing for COVID-19, visit your local emergency department. Please call in advance so that infection prevention precautions may be taken to protect you, other patients, visitors and employees.

Hand Washing

Visitors to Sentara facilities are encouraged to:

  • Use antibacterial foam/sanitizer upon entering and leaving patient rooms and wash their hands with soap and water when available, especially after blowing your nose or touching your face.
  • This is one of the most effective ways to control the spread of any communicable disease.

As a follow up to our past update, Sentara RMH Medical Center has tested a patient who has been determined presumptive positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). We continue to work closely with the Virginia Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Our clinicians are closely monitoring COVID-19 and we are providing the latest guidance to our community through the news media, proactive e-mail updates, responding to phone calls and our dedicated website at

Coronavirus Assessment Tool