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'It’s just like somebody’s ripped your heart out of your chest' | Hospital visitor restrictions keep mother from visiting son in ICU

Wake Forest Baptist Health says it's not allowing visitors in critical care units in order to protect patients, visitors and staff from the spread of COVID-19.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Hospitals across the country are taking measures to help protect patients, staff and visitors from the spread of the coronavirus. 

Those visitor restrictions are extremely difficult for some, like Velvet Gammons.

Gammons said her son Scottie, 31, is in the ICU at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem. He was taken to the hospital after he got sick the other day.

"Yesterday he got sick and his heart rate was running very low and his stomach was very distended," said Gammons, "Kind of cold and clammy so we took them over to Mount Airy Hospital." 

Gammons said doctors found bilateral pneumonia and an issue with his gallbladder.

Gammons said her son was then transferred to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, but she's unable to visit him because of visitor restrictions due to COVID-19.  

"It’s just like somebody’s ripped your heart out of your chest," said Gammons.

Wake Forest Baptist Health said the restrictions are meant to keep everyone healthy.

“To protect patients, visitors and staff from the spread of COVID-19, no visitors are permitted to enter the critical care units at Wake Forest Baptist Health except for end-of-life care," Wake Forest Baptist Health said in a statement, "We understand this is a very challenging time and appreciate the cooperation of everyone to help keep our patients and staff safe, which is our top priority."

RELATED: A special thanks for the staff at Wake Forest Baptist Health

Gammons said her son is nonverbal and totally dependant. 

Gammons said she's been sitting in her car outside the hospital since 1 a.m. Tuesday. She said she's worried about her son. 

"He’s never been left alone for 5 minutes. I don’t even go to the mailbox. I haven’t left my house in forever," she said. 

Gammons said Scottie was in the ICU at a young age and diagnosed with mytonic dystrophy. She said they started visiting the hospital more frequently after he turned 15-years-old.

Gammons said she adopted her son after he was released from the ICU as a child, right after he turned one.

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"They told me he would never live to be 2," said Gammons.

But soon, she said he was crawling and eating. 

"They finally stopped saying you know he’s not gonna do this and that because he was doing it all," she said. 

Gammons said she needs to be there for her son. "He is mentally a two-year-old child," she said. 

Gammons said she hopes she can see her son soon.

"I stay and I don’t leave the hospital when he’s in the hospital," she said, "I’ve spent as much as 20 days when he’s in the hospital and I have to stay in the room with him. I wait until my sister gets there to even go take a shower when he’s in the hospital." 

"Most hospitals across the U.S. are following these guidelines as well to help prevent the spread of this virus," said Wake Forest Baptist Health.

RELATED: Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center sets up assessment tents outside emergency departments

Wake Forest Baptist Health is allowing one healthy visitor for children under 18 or patients giving birth. 

Hospitals across the Triad and the country have implemented similar restrictions. 

Cone Health has restricted family and friends from visiting patients at hospitals with certain exceptions. 

Do you think you might have COVID-19 (coronavirus)? Our online self-... assessment can help you decide if it's time to call a health care provider while you're social-distancing in the comfort of your home. *Note: This assessment is not professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you're experiencing any life-threatening symptoms or emergencies, call 911.

Women giving birth are allowed to have one person in the room with them, whether it be a spouse, partner or doula. 

Only one parent or guardian will be allowed to visit during the child's entire hospital stay if the child is under 18.

Novant Health also posted visitor restrictions on its Facebook page. 

Stress and anxiety are normal reactions to life uncertainties but le... arning to cope from home may be easier said than done. Melissa Welch, licensed clinical social worker, has tips to incorporate into your new routine.

At Novant Health, all obstetrics patients are allowed one visitor. This includes mothers giving birth and those who have scheduled C-sections.

For more information on visitor restrictions at Wake Forest Baptist Health, click here.

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