Visitor restrictions implemented at Advocate Aurora as COVID-19 cases surge

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Updated: 7:05 p.m. on Oct. 15, 2020

WEST ALLIS, Wis. (CBS 58) - Some area hospitals are making the tough decision to not allow visitors amid the surge of COVID-19 cases.

As of Thursday nearly 90-percent of Milwaukee County hospital beds are being used and only 25-percent of ICU beds are now available.  

A total of 16 Advocate Aurora Health facilities now have a no-visitor policy, which began Wednesday. Nearly a dozen of those locations are in southeast Wisconsin.  

“It’s not something that we just—you know, pull the trigger on. There’s been a lot of thinking and a lot planning behind this,” said Dr. Hammad Haider-Shah, chief medical officer, Aurora West Allis Medical Center. 

Dr. Haider-Shah says a majority of patients will not be able to have any visitors.  

“Post-operative patients, your patients that are here with COVID-19, your patients that are here with any other medical illness, they will not be getting visitors at present,” he added.   

There are some exceptions -- labor patients, pediatric patients and patients who are incapable of making decisions on their own will be allowed a visitor or two. COVID-19 patients are allowed a visitor only for end of life support.  

“We are doing our best to make sure that we are not separating families from patients more than we have to—we really want to be very thoughtful,” said Dr. Haider-Shah.  

The decision comes as Milwaukee County hospitals see a jump in COVID-19 patients, something Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett says is troubling.  

As of Thursday, nearly a third of available ventilators in the county are being used.  

“We have seen well over two and a half times increase in the number of COVID-19 patients just in one month,” said Mayor Barrett.  

“The ability of having visitors come to visit patients or residents does increase potential for disease spread,” said Darren Rausch, health director at Greenfield Health Department.  

As of now, Froedtert and Medical College of Wisconsin are still accepting visitors, except for COVID-19 positive patients with some exceptions.

The hospital says in part, “We will continue to monitor this closely to assess whether any adjustments are needed.” 

County health officials are urging all hospitals and nursing homes be vigilant with visitor policies after seeing what happened with outbreaks in the spring.

“Often times it came with an employee or it came with a family member before lockdown occurred,” said Rausch.  

“We want to keep them safe. We want to keep our team members, so as long as the numbers are going up, unfortunately, we’ll have to keep the visitor restriction going.” 

Dr. Haider-Shah says he’s unsure of when they’ll lift the visitor restrictions but they will look at factors like hospital capacity, case rates and community spread before allowing visitors again.  

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Posted: 11:08 a.m. on Oct. 15, 2020

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Advocate Aurora has re-implemented their no visitor policy as COVID-19 cases continue to surge in Wisconsin. 

The change is to ensure the health and safety of Aurora patients and staff members. 

The policy includes few exceptions and will be until further notice. Virtual visits are still available. 

Here's a look at the visitor exceptions for non COVID-19 patients: 

  • One designated parent/caregiver for pediatric patients, including newborns
  • One designated asymptomatic companion to a laboring mother and one certified doula
  • One designated person for nondecisional patients
  • One designated person to receive in-person discharge instructions
  • One designated person for patients with disabilities, including dementia, who may assist with care and decision-making
  • One designated person for emergency department adult patients; adult ED patients may be accompanied by minor children
  • Two designated parents/caregivers for emergency department pediatric patients younger than 18 years of age
  • One designated person for behavioral health inpatients – at site discretion
  • One designated person and a rape-crisis advocate for patients being seen due to sexual assault or domestic violence
  • Three support people for end-of-life situations
  • Professionals assigned to assist with procedures, post-procedures and critical service vendors

To learn more, CLICK HERE


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