DES MOINES – Last week UnityPoint Health eased its masking requirement for all of its hospitals in the state so that masks are now optional for most patients.

UnityPoint’s COVID mitigation plan allows for the masking to be optional for patients after COVID transmission reaches a moderate level. After transmission reached a moderate level for a few weeks UnityPoint decided to go ahead and change its requirement.

Another policy that has changed is UnityPoint’s visitor policy. Now patients can have up to two visitors and if they are at the hospital for maternity services as well they can have an additional visitor who is a doula or birthing coach.

Julie Gibbons, UnityPoint Health Des Moines’s Manager of Infection Prevention and Control, says that there are also cases where visitors and patients can work with the hospital to allow more than just two visitors.

“We also know that sometimes there are extenuating circumstances that patients need for their welfare to have more than those two people come in,” Gibbons said, “and again if they follow our visitor screening, they haven’t been exposed to COVID, they don’t have respiratory symptoms, they can come in and they can work without nursing system leadership to decide if that is in the best interest of the patient.”

UnityPoint still requires patients who have respiratory illness symptoms to wear a mask. It also requires its healthcare workers to wear masks when they are interacting with patients.

The most recent information on UnityPoint Heath’s COVID safety restrictions is on their website.