To me, it's been one of the most heartbreaking parts of the pandemic: folks not being able to see loved ones in hospitals and elderly care facilities because of mitigation restrictions. I lost my uncle after a stroke during the pandemic and was unable to see him, partly because traveling to California was challenging but also because limitations on even his immediate family were in place. Those worries are now being eased for so many as vaccination rates increase.

Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids is now following suit with its counterpart UnityPoint-St. Luke's and other medical facilities in easing some of its visitor restrictions.

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The new policy changes, according to Iowa's News Now, include new visiting hours. Visitors are welcome to see patients now from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. with some exceptions. Those exceptions are:

  • Mercy’s Inpatient Behavioral Unit will retain limited visiting hours, allowing one adult per patient from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • The Birthplace now permits one support person plus two additional visitors; the visitors must be consistently the same throughout the stay. In addition, siblings of any age can be considered one of the visitors. There are no restrictions on visiting hours in the Birthplace.
  • Babies in Mercy’s NICU can have two visitors: the mother and the support person. No siblings are allowed.
  • Mercy’s Pediatric Inpatient Unit is limited to two visitors. No siblings are allowed.

Visitors must still wear masks at all times in the hospital and those who have respiratory symptoms or known exposure to COVID-19 must not enter the facility at Mercy.

LOOK: Answers to 30 common COVID-19 vaccine questions

While much is still unknown about the coronavirus and the future, what is known is that the currently available vaccines have gone through all three trial phases and are safe and effective. It will be necessary for as many Americans as possible to be vaccinated in order to finally return to some level of pre-pandemic normalcy, and hopefully these 30 answers provided here will help readers get vaccinated as soon they are able.