By Michaela Ramm, The Gazette CEDAR RAPIDS – For the first time since the pandemic began and local health care facilities went on lockdown, both Cedar Rapids hospitals have lifted some visitor restrictions.
Starting Monday, hospitalized patients and those in the emergency room at either Mercy Medical Center or UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s Hospital can have two visitors at a time.
Birth care patients can have up to two visitors at a time, which would include one support person and one visitor, officials announced Friday.
NICU patients may have one birth parent plus one significant other as visitors.
At this time, no visitors are allowed in the behavioral health units of either hospital. Children under age 16 still cannot visit, hospital officials said in a news release.
“Visitors must follow screening procedures and may not have any respiratory symptoms or known exposure to COVID-19,” the joint news release said. “Visitors must be screened and wear a mask at all times during their visit.”
The move comes the same week eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccines opened to all Iowans, regardless of age or health status. Since doses first arrived, local public health officials and other health care providers have administered at least one shot to more than 131,000 Linn County residents, according to the state’s coronavirus website.
Visitation changes were among the first adjustments the Cedar Rapids hospitals made when they implemented patient restrictions a year ago, just as new cases of the coronavirus began to appear in Iowa.
Visitor restrictions, among other policies, were put in place to prevent virus spread inside hospitals and preserve their ability to respond to the pandemic.