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UIHC announces a ban on almost all patient visits


UI Quick Care Clinic at Old Capitol Town Center, March 11, 2020. — Matt Steele/Little Village

COVID-19 has already caused University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics to restrict the number of visitors its patients can have, and that restriction will turn into an almost total ban on visitors at all UIHC locations starting on Wednesday.

“Beginning tomorrow, our adult in-patient visits will be temporarily suspended,” UIHC Chief Medical Officer Dr. Theresa Brennan said during a Johnson County Public Health Department press conference on Tuesday. “There are predetermined exceptions to this for women who are in labor with an impending delivery, and for patients who come to our emergency room.”

There may also be exceptions made for patients in unique circumstances, such as those who need to discuss end-of-life health care decisions with family members.

“Pediatric patients will be allowed one visitor per day, and that must be a parent or a legal guardian,” Brennan said.

All visitors who are permitted to enter a UIHC facility under these new temporary rules must be at least 18 years old and in good health.

“This was a difficult decision and we have discussed it at length,” the doctor explained. “And we know that it’s the right thing to do to protect our patients, our visitors and our staff.”

In a video posted on UIHC’s website, CEO Suresh Gunasekaran said, “It is my commitment to those who are hospitalized that we provide a way to make sure you communicate with family and loved ones at least once a day.”

“We’ll provide the technology if you don’t have your own phone or tablet.”

Gunasekaran also emphasized that UIHC remains open to treat people in need of medical care. He said COVID-19 patients currently only make up 3 percent of its total patients, and the COVID-19 patients are all in isolation.

“We have the scale and skill to manage both the three percent and the remaining 97 percent,” Gunasekaran said.

UIHC is one of 70 sites (and the first in Iowa) participating in a clinical trial for Remdesivir, believed to be the most promising COVID-19 treatment available. COVID-19 patients admitted to UIHC who are 12 years and older and meet certain criteria are given the option to be a part of the drug trial.


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