APPLETON, Wis. (NBC 26) -- At Ascension Northeast Wisconsin's St. Elizabeth Hospital, staff continue to limit the number of guests' patients can have. At this point, every patient can have just one visitor at a time, regardless of whether a patient is there for a COVID-related illness or general care.
It's a measure that Dr. Tom Nichols, the Chief Medical Officer says is essential to maintain a healthy environment for staff and patients.
"In order to keep our patients safe and our caregivers safe we have been trying to limit the visitation to one visitor per person to reduce the flow of traffic in and out of the hospital."
During the first wave of COVID-related illnesses, Dr. Nichols says the hospital made the difficult decision to restrict all visitors from the hospital. But learning from that experience, he says staff realized how much of an impact the move had on patients and their families. Today, hospital leaders at Ascension are disappointed they have had to reinstate a modified restriction for all visitors.
"We were hopeful that we wouldn't get to this point again. When the vaccines came out we were optimistic that we would be able to achieve that herd immunity by having most of the population take that vaccine. But we just haven't seen that occur," adds Dr. Nichols.
Optimistically, Dr. Nichols says the restrictions do not have to stay in place indefinitely though. That is if more people within the community would get vaccinated, socially distance, and continue wearing masks as the virus continues to spread.
"The solution is vaccination. We've seen a lot of patients who are requiring very intensive services for COVID here at our hospital and they're younger and healthier than they were in the earlier wave of the pandemic. But what's common in almost all of them is they say I wish I would have gotten the vaccine," adds Dr. Nichols.