HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph's hospitals in Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls, respectively, restricted visitors last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but are now allowing two visitors per patient at a time, HSHS announced Monday.

The following policies are now in effect at Sacred Heart and St. Joseph's hospitals:

  • All patients may have up to two visitors at a time.
  • Visitors under age 12 are not permitted.
  • All patients nearing end-of-life will have special arrangements made on a case-by-case basis.
  • Patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 may not have visitors. The only exception to this is a pediatric patient. Other special circumstances will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
  • Visitors will also be allowed back into hospital cafeterias, though physical distancing there is still encouraged.

Visitors to the hospitals will still be screened for COVID-19 symptoms and exposure, will be required to wear a facemask covering their nose and mouth and are required to use hand sanitizer, regardless of their vaccination status.

HSHS said in a news release Monday: "Thanks to the availability of COVID-19 vaccines and those who have made the choice to become vaccinated, the pandemic is showing signs of significant decline which now allows our patients to safely receive more visitors."

“We understand how important it is for our patients and their loved ones to be able to connect, and we thank everyone for their understanding during what has been a very challenging time for all,” said Andrew Bagnall, President and CEO of HSHS Wisconsin.

Sarah Seifert is the L-T's education and health reporter. She has worked as a journalist in the Chippewa Valley since 2017 and joined the L-T in 2019. Get in touch at sarah.seifert@ecpc.com or on Twitter @sarahaseifert.