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Allina Health to temporarily block visitors as COVID cases surge

"Red" visitor status means patients will not be able to have visitors, with very few exceptions.

MINNEAPOLIS — It feels like a repeat from one of the darkest times during the pandemic. However, Allina Health announced Monday it will be restricting visitor access to its hospitals.

Multiple factors were weighed before Allina decided to move its visitor status to red, from yellow.

"Our staff are out ill with COVID, our hospitals are really really full, and we have high community spread," Allina Health's Vice President of Safety and Quality Molly Clark said. "All of those came together to make this really difficult decision."

Molly Clark says this means patients will not be allowed to have visitors for the foreseeable future, given very few exceptions.

Previously, in the yellow status, patients could have one visitor, provided proper protective measures like masking and social distancing were met. 

"We don't do this very often, we hope this round of being in red status is short lived. We will move back to yellow as soon as we can," Clark added.

Allina says the last time they were in red status was back in November of 2020 to January of 2021. 

Clark says the reason they don't do this often is because they know visitors mean a whole lot to those who are sick.

"Some of us, including myself, have had loved ones in the hospital and haven't been able to see them during COVID," she said. "It is very emotionally draining for the loved ones that want to be there, and very lonely and isolating for those that are in the hospital and can't see their loved ones. We certainly use technology as much as possible to connect people but it's not the same."

The fact that they're revisiting protocols from one of the darkest times during this pandemic is also not sitting easily with hospital staff either.

"We felt we have done so much and learned so much during COVID, where we've been able to mitigate our risk and not have to move into these different levels of restriction," Clark said. "That being said, where we're at today, is — it's a really really difficult time in healthcare. I've been a part of our COVID response since the beginning and this is probably — I would say one of the most difficult and straining times, because of the impact on our caregivers."

And with that, comes a big message.

"Be vaccinated, boosted and take any safety precautions you can for you and your loved ones, that should be top of mind," Clark said. "We are not out of this COVID pandemic at this time, and we have some tough weeks ahead of us, I believe, in Minnesota. I hope soon we'll be on the other side of this one, but please take any precautions you can to keep you and your loved ones safe."

Non-urgent surgeries have also been delayed at Allina Health.

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