Updated April 6, 2022

Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) is updating our guidance to align with the CDC’s recent changes. This guidance is being updated to continue our focus on protection for healthcare personnel, patients and visitors. These updates will be refined as additional information becomes available to inform recommended actions.

ARHS encourages everyone to remain up to date with all recommended COVID-19 vaccine doses. Employees are required to present proof of vaccination and booster doses to Occupational Health.



In Patient Care Areas

In an effort to continue to protect our staff, ARHS will continue to require masks and eye protection while providing patient care.

  • Masks ARE REQUIRED for employees in ARHS facilities where they may come in contact with a patient or visitor. Nursing stations are considered patient care areas
  • Eye Protection is required only in COVID patient rooms

In Non-Patient Care Areas

  • Masks are NOT Required for employees working in non-patient care areas where they do not potentially encounter patients and visitors
  • Eye protection is not required for employees working in non-patient care areas where they do not potentially encounter patients and visitors

Proper Mask Use: Where required, employees should wear well-fitting face masks (with a nose wire) that covers the nose and mouth.



Those who are not up to date with vaccines are encouraged to remain six feet away from others. We will continue to provide places where social distancing can occur.



General COVID-19 Visitor Guidelines

At Hospitals, Outpatient Offices and other ARHS Locations (HR, Patient Accounts, etc), visitors must wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth at all times in public locations (a mask is not required inside a patient’s room).

Visitors should not enter if they have a respiratory illness, fever, cough, etc. if they have COVID-19 or are waiting on COVID-19 test results.

Watauga Medical Center & Cannon Memorial Hospital

Adult and Pediatric Patients: Two (2) visitors will be allowed for adult patients at any given time

WMC Birthing Center: Two visitors will be allowed from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m., only one overnight visitor will be allowed. If a laboring mother wishes to have a doula they would be allowed as a third person but should leave within one hour after delivery.

Emergency Departments

Emergency Departments patients are allowed one (1) visitor any time of day upon initial assessment, and 2 visitors once the patient is stabilized. Two (2) parents or guardians are allowed if patients are under 18. Visitors must wear a badge with the room number identified.

Due to construction, Emergency Department visitors will be allowed in waiting rooms, but are encouraged to wait in their vehicle due to limited waiting room space.

COVID Patients: One visitor at a time will be allowed for COVID patients on isolation between 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Additional visitors will be considered as needed by the House Supervisor.

Exceptions for additional visitation will be managed by the ED Charge Nurse.

Inpatient Behavioral Health

Visiting hours are 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. One (1) visitor will be allowed for a period of 30 minutes, by appointment only. Potential visitors should call (828) 737-7071 to schedule an appointment.



All patients admitted to ARHS hospitals for inpatient care will be tested for COVID when they have COVID symptoms or have a known exposure to a COVID positive person. Appalachian Regional Behavioral Health Hospital will require testing prior to admission. Treating providers may still order COVID tests whenever necessary. Inpatients will no longer be subject to surveillance testing during their hospital stay unless they are symptomatic or ordered by a provider.



There will no longer be greeters stationed at Cannon Memorial Hospital and patients will be directed by Patient Access desk. Watauga Medical Center will continue with Greeters to help patients and visitors navigate construction disruptions.

Greeters will no longer ask screening questions of visitors upon arrival but instead, ensure mask wearing while in public areas and provide new visitation guidance. Greeters will also assist in identifying ED patients arriving with COVID symptoms to segmented areas of waiting space. Visitors will no longer need identification bracelets.



Cafeteria services will be reinstituting fountain drink services and salad bar services as soon as possible.

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