Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Area hospitals, clinics re-implement visitor restrictions

In response to increasing community spread of COVID-19, both the Mayo Clinic and Tomah Health will be re-implementing visitor restrictions.

Mayo Clinic Health System's southwest Wisconsin region re-implemented its no-visitor policy at all hospital facilities starting yesterday, Wednesday, Nov. 11. The outpatient (clinic) facilities will move to a no-visitor policy on Monday, Nov. 16.

"The ongoing safety of our patients, staff and communities remains our primary focus during this pandemic,” said Jason Fratzke, chief nursing officer at Mayo Clinic Health System. “We understand these restrictions might be difficult for some patients and their families. But we believe it is necessary to take these steps as the spread of COVID-19 continues to increase currently in our community."  

"We need everyone to take these necessary precautions seriously like wearing a mask, washing hands and following physical distancing; so that we can once again allow families to be with their loved ones in our facilities,” Fratzke added.

Mayo implemented a no-visitor policy from March 22 to June 1 when visitors were once again allowed to return. 

Tomah Health will begin restricting visitors today, Thursday, Nov. 12.

Hospital Chief Nursing Officer Tracy Myhre, said that no visitors would be allowed in hospital’s Emergency and Urgent Care Departments, as well as Infusion Services, Surgical Dept. and Warrens Clinic for at least the next two weeks.

“The restriction of visitors allows us to focus on the patients that we care for and decreases the amount of supplies, including personal protective equipment that we use,” Myhre said. “We need to scale back on the number of people in our facilities.”

Tomah Health is allowing one visitor over 18 years old in the Acute Care Dept. or inpatient area of the hospital during a 24-hour period. One visitor also is allowed for Obstetric (OB) patients having an OB ultrasound and at the hospital’s Hospice Touch and Life Choices Palliative Care facility at 601 Straw St., in Tomah. 

Both Mayo and Tomah Health are granting exceptions to the no-visitor policy on a case-by-case basis including end-of-life care and other specific circumstances.

Myhre said visitor restrictions at Tomah Health are determined by the availability of staff to care for patients, available beds, amount of supplies needed to operate on a daily basis and cases of COVID in the area. 

“We have said for a while that we knew that COVID would not be one big event but rather waves of activity," said Myhre. "We felt about a week ago that we were starting to have an upswing of activity and noted that the activity has gone up."

She added that the continued safety of patients, staff and communities remains the primary focus during the pandemic. 

“We understand that restrictions have been difficult on our patients, their families and our staff, but truly appreciate all the cooperation, which has enabled us to continue providing safe, quality care.”

Mayo said it is allowing ER and pediatric patients to have one visitor as well as outpatients who require physical or cognitive assistance, or who are minors.

 Mayo will screen all visitors prior to entry. Those who screen positive for respiratory illness will be prohibited from entering.

Mayo Clinic Health System said it will continue to offer technology such as laptops and iPads for patients to stay in contact with family and friends while hospitalized. Care team members also will help patients use their personal devices to communicate with loved ones.

Mayo Clinic Health System locations in southwest Wisconsin include Arcadia, Holmen, La Crosse, Onalaska, Prairie du Chien, Sparta and Tomah, Wisconsin, and Caledonia, Minnesota.

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