Little Falls couple surprised by COVID-19 hospital restrictions

Brandi Powell
Updated: September 30, 2020 06:29 PM
Created: September 30, 2020 06:19 PM

Kim and Mike Wolters thought they'd be together just a few days ago as Mike faced a big surgery, but COVID-19 changed that.

Kim isn't allowed inside St. Cloud hospital before or after her husband's surgery due to COVID restrictions.

"He said, 'I'm feeling a little bit more nervous than I ever have before, just because you're not here,'" Kim told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.

Mike had to deal with those nerves alone going into surgery to fuse part of his neck together.

The Little Falls couple said they were surprised they couldn't be together because it's contrary to what they were told just last week.

"There were a lot of emotions happening; this isn't his first surgery but this is his biggest surgery, so to not be able to be there at this time for a surgery of this magnitude was hard on both of us," Kim said.

For Wolters, his surgery didn't fall into the exceptions, such as being in end-of-life care or labor support.

Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, said he understands.

"My father died in April in a hospital and I was not able to see or be with him. I've seen safe protocols put in place so that we can still visit our loved ones," Azar said. "I'm not going to second guess individual hospitals, nursing homes or public health authorities."

The Minnesota Department of Health said it gives hospitals guidelines about COVID-19 safety protocols but doesn't blanket mandates.

"The guidance that we've provided is intended to make sure that transmission in acute care settings where you have so many vulnerable individuals is minimized," MDH Director of Infectious Diseases and Epidemiology said.

MDH said each hospital sets its own visitor restrictions based on what's happening at that facility and in that community.CentraCare sent out a notice to patients on Monday saying, in part, "Due to the current surge in positive COVID-19 cases in our communities, CentraCare is once again implementing a no visitor policy at all its facilities. The restrictions will go into effect Wednesday, September 30."

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