MercyOne Dubuque goes back to restricting visits

MercyOne Dubuque staff decided to restrict visits again as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Dubuque County.
Published: Sep. 18, 2020 at 11:04 PM CDT
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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) - Dubuque County saw a record high of 113 new COVID-19 cases Friday. The previous record was 72 in early July.

That increase led MercyOne Dubuque to go move back into Phase 1 of its reopening process, which means no visitors will be allowed inside the hospital except for some specific circumstances.

Those exceptions include hospitalized children, maternity unit, and end-of-life care. They are also making case-by-case exceptions for some extensive life-saving surgeries.

Staff at MercyOne made the decision as the infection rate in the community has gotten over a hundred people per hundred-thousand residents.

Robert Wethal, vice-president of patient care services, said it was not a pleasant decision to make.

“This really is not taken lightly by any of us,” he said. “The last thing we want to do is restrict anybody from the patients and their families; families are so vital to patients healing and having the right environment to get better.”

Wethal said they are coming up with alternatives for those who cannot visit loved ones now.

One of those includes having iPads for almost all patients to be able to do video calls with family. Physicians and nurses will also use that technology to talk to the patient’s family.

He said they do hope, however, to lift these restrictions as soon as possible.

“I am hoping that the incident rate kind of comes down here soon and we can open it back up to those restrictions so there is still one visitor per patient,” he commented. “I kind of feel like this is what it is going to be going through the fall and winter, just in restriction, out of restriction, in restriction as we monitor very closely.”

Mercy had previously moved to Phase 2, which allowed one visitor per patient per day inside the hospital.

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