ThedaCare revises COVID-19 visitor restrictions at local hospitals

Published: Feb. 25, 2021 at 8:57 AM CST|Updated: Feb. 25, 2021 at 4:34 PM CST
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NEENAH, Wis. (WBAY) - ThedaCare has updated its visitor restrictions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s been one year since the hospital system implemented restrictions to keep patients and staff safe from the virus.

“We are very happy there’s a vaccine here, we’re happy that rates are declining, and as a result we have decided to revise our visitor policies to make them less restrictive for our patients,” said Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jennifer Frank.

The hospital system is implementing changes at hospitals in Appleton, Berlin, Neenah, New London, Shawano, Waupaca and Wild Rose.

The following changes take effect Feb. 26:

• No visitors for COVID positive patients, except limited, approved, pre-arranged visitation for end of life. Those situations will pre-arranged through care teams.

• Non-COVID patients may have one visitor during normal visiting hours. Visitors must remain masked at all times, and stay in the patient’s room.

• Please do not visit if you are experiencing common COVID-19 symptoms, including: Fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, headache, sore throat, etc. Call your primary care provider to direct you to appropriate care.

• One parent/guardian is allowed to accompany a minor, or a patient with a medical need (intellectual and/or developmental disability or cognitive impairment).

• Adult patients who need care may enter with their children if childcare cannot be arranged. Children over the age of two must be masked at all times.

• Visitors who are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, or do not comply with masking guidelines, will be asked to leave.

Screeners will no longer take temperatures or ask about symptoms at hospitals and clinics. Masking is still required.

“Visitor restrictions and screening guidelines will be assessed on a regular basis as new information about COVID-19 becomes available,” said Dr. Frank. “While ThedaCare is confident in implementing the updated visitor policies, it is critically important community members continue following public health recommendations including wearing a mask, staying home when ill, maintaining physical distance, washing hands frequently and getting vaccinated when you are eligible.”

Dr. Frank believes the changes are welcome for patients and medical staff.

“It feels great. I think many physicians and nurses have been really adversely impacted by observing the challenges their patients have not having loved ones around them. Illness is difficult in the best of circumstances, but when you don’t have someone around you who loves you, cares for you, who’s familiar makes it that much worse,” said Dr. Frank. “As part of the care team and really wanting the best for our patients, it’s been difficult to see our patients struggle and suffer with that. And then likewise for their families who are not able to see them at a moment of great need, it is very challenging for them as well.”

Though not all restrictions are lifted, Dr. Frank believes they’re encouraging changes.

“It gives us some hope, it’s a very powerful manifestation that there is that light at the end of the tunnel,” said Dr. Frank. “If we can just continue doing all those important things, like masking and physically distancing until we have enough people vaccinated or immune that we can kind of loosen them further, then we will get there together.”

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