Cook Children’s Medical Center is reverting to limited inpatient visitations starting Monday due to the rise in local COVID-19 cases, hospital officials announced Thursday. At the same time, the hospital is reporting more hospitalizations among children infected with the virus.
Beginning Monday, Nov. 16 at 5 a.m., only one primary caregiver will be allowed per patient inside the medical center. Siblings and other visitors will not be allowed.
“The rule was in place from March through Oct. 1. Due to substantial community spread of the virus, we are reverting to this policy,” Cook Children’s announced in a press release.
Cook Children’s is currently experiencing the highest number of infected children on a daily basis since the COVID-19 pandemic began, medical center officials said. The 7-day rolling positivity rate is 8.3%, which is up from an average of 5% seen in recent months. This reflects an increase in the total number of patients testing positive for COVID-19 across Cook Children’s Medical Center, primary care and urgent care locations.
As of Thursday, there are 11 confirmed COVID-19 patients at Cook Children’s Medical Center. On Wednesday, they reported eight hospitalized COVID-19 patients and none last Friday.
Dr. Suzanne Whitworth, Medical Director of Infectious Diseases at Cook Children’s, confirmed three of the 11 patients are in the ICU.
"I do think that is the most that we’ve had since the pandemic started as far as I can remember. We may have had a day of 12 but not really more than that, so there are more at the moment than there have been," Whitworth said Thursday.
Referring to the decision on the policy change, Whitworth said it was not an easy one to make. However, they believe it will result in about 200 fewer people inside the medical center each day.
"It’s terrible to reach this decision, because we’re all parents. So, we are doing our best in a really difficult time to try to keep everyone safe," she said. "These kids will at least have a parent or a relative at the bedside if they want to 24 hours a day. They won’t be alone. We just feel like this is the safest thing for everyone."
This week, Tarrant County health officials reported more than 1,500 new cases on Monday followed by an additional 925 on Tuesday. 752 new cases were added on Wednesday, according to the county dashboard.
Stan Davis, Chief Operating Officer at Cook Children’s, said the high numbers along with the increasing cases across Tarrant County have forced them to make the decision to limit the number of people on their campus.
“We know these measures greatly impact our patient families and mean missed moments between parents and children,” Davis said. “This decision was not made lightly, and was determined to be necessary given the circumstances surrounding the rapid spread of COVID-19 in our community.”
Jeff Fehlis, executive vice president of the American Cancer Society, said the visitor limitations in the age of COVID-19 are understandable. However, it does not make it any easier for caregivers.
The American Cancer Society has been actively helping caregivers navigate the pandemic under restrictions, Fehlis told NBC 5 on Thursday.
"Most off, people just want to be there to help. To just be a resource, a helping hand but also just to know that the patient is loved," he said.
Stephen Love, president of the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council, said there are currently about 2,000 patients being treated for COVID-19 at hospitals across North Texas.
"Currently, we do have the capacity. We do have the PPE, but I’ll be honest with you, our staff is fatigued. They’ve been at this for eight months," Love said.
With the holidays approaching, Love is urging people to wear masks and social distance the best they can. He also encouraged people to get their flu shots if they have not done so already.
"People would really grab attention if this was a hurricane that we were facing, because hurricanes can kill and hurricanes do damage," he said. "In some ways, people get tired of hearing about all of these precautions they need to take. Well, pretend like this is a category four, five hurricane and let’s do preparation we need."
For more information on Cook Children's new policy, click here.