ODESSA, Texas — It's been 402 days since these hospital doors at MCH were open to the public.
The barricade out front serving as a reminder of how this virus left us all feeling: Isolated, socially distanced and in fear of spreading or contracting the virus.
But thanks to the vaccine, the barricade to the COVID unit at MCH is going away.
"We're at our lowest COVID numbers in more than a year so we felt it was time to start allowing people back in the building. Now this is obviously not going to be a free for all again where you can just come in and roam around. That's the last thing we want," said Trevor Tankersly, MCH director of public relations.
MCH is allowing one visitor per day on the COVID floor. They can stay as long as they want, but they can't come and go from the hospital, they need to don full PPE, and it must be prearranged and scheduled with the charge nurse.
MCH will have greeters roaming the first floor to help you get to where you need to go.
There won't be a temperature check or sign-in required, but masks are.
"We don't want those large crowds still in the waiting room as we're still battling this virus, but we are just trying to open it up for more people to come in and see their loved ones in a very safe and responsible way," Tankersly said.
Not only is this great news for patients and their families, it's also lessening the load for healthcare workers.
"From those that I've talked to it's a good thing. Our workers have worked so hard during this pandemic. They've had to be nurses, doctors, while also having to be caretakers and people as well. They're having to facilitate phone calls and Facetimes in addition to their normal clinical duties," Tankersly said.
It's just one inch closer back to normal.
Over at ORMC, they're still only allowing visitors on their COVID floor if it's an end of life situation, a pediatric patient or a laboring or postpartum patient.
At MMH, they're allowing visitors to the COVID floor, but only for end of life circumstances.
If that visitor is fully vaccinated, they need to prove it and be wearing full PPE. They can stay in the room all day.
But if the visitor is not vaccinated, they need to sign a waiver, be wearing full PPE and they can't stay in the room all day.