SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Hospitals all over the world are restricting visitors in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but that change is affecting local families here in Springfield.
Ozarks First’s Frances Lin spoke to two people who currently have family members at mercy hospital.
Amy Barnts has a 73-year-old aunt who has pneumonia in her lungs, staying in Mercy Hospital.
Phillip Gillard has a 92-year-old mother who fell, also staying in Mercy Hospital.
“A nurse coordinator called me trying to reassure me that everything was going to be fine, but did not allow a family member to be there,” said Gillard.
“She got a room assigned, and they let her go upstairs with her,” said Barnts, “but then, after she was upstairs, the nurse said you’re not going to be able to stay.”
“I’m aware that there have been a couple of issues that have come up,” said Craig McCoy, president of Mercy Springfield Communities, “you have to understand that we’re in very abnormal times right now.”
McCoy explained why visitation restriction is necessary right now, saying “the pandemic has caused us to basically restrict visitation. The whole intent behind that is to keep all the patients, all the coworkers, and quite frankly all the visitors safe.”
But here are a list of exceptions.
“Someone who is unable to speak for themselves, in regards to care, with a child, with a minor, we would certainly have one parent or guardian,” McCoy explained, “someone is end of life, if someone is altered mental status, like dementia or Alzheimers.”
However, Gillard and Barnts want those exceptions to be more broad.
“Like if it was an adult with dementia, a sitter would be fine, because they don’t know who you are anyway,” Barnts said, “my aunt knows who her sister is.”
“We know how mother is,” Phillip said, “she drops the phone, sometimes she gets confused out of her environment.”
“The special care that she needs is someone has to brush her teeth at night, but she’s not used to strangers,” Barnts said, “I guess they could force her mouth open and brush her teeth but that would traumatize her.”
McCoy also said if you believe your family member should be an exception, Mercy will try to rush you through the process, “where the screeners at the door will escalate that. We also have an administrator on call who will intervene. The amount positive for the amount tested is pretty low in this area, and so we want to continue to do everything we can to keep it that way.”
Both Barnts’ aunt’s caregiver and Gillard were granted visitation rights.
But McCoy is warning: the virus spreads fast, and these restrictions are meant to save lives.