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Mother Fights To Visit Injured Son Due To Metro Hospital's COVID Restrictions

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- A Minnesota mother is questioning the visitor policy at one metro hospital after a terrifying accident nearly took her son's life on the Fourth of July.

John Butler, 28, was sitting on the tailgate of a friend's truck when witnesses say a sudden acceleration and braking on a cabin road led to a life-threatening head injury.

He was airlifted from Princeton to North Memorial Health hospital in Robbinsdale for treatment. Jane Butler is his mother.

"His injuries were bleeding of the brain, bruising of the brain, shattered cheek, broken collar bone and cracked and fractured ribs," Jane said.

Hours later, his family was told to pick two people as visitors for the length of his hospitalization.

"You're not thinking rational, you're just kind of beside yourself," Jane said.

John's wife and his dad, Steve Range -- who lives near the hospital -- were designated.

"Not really thinking that this was forever, permanent, I could never see him," his mom added.

John and Jane Butler
John and Jane Butler (credit: Jane Butler)

Jane spent the 10 days since trying to get in.

"You sit and look at your telephone wondering if somebody's gonna text you and say, 'He's alive,' 'He's dead,'" she said.

WCCO found North Memorial's visitor policy is among the most restrictive as they've been loosened since the pandemic. Whereas this hospital allows two visitors per hospitalization, many others in the metro state the two can be different people day-to-day.

"I'm grateful for his care, don't get me wrong," Jane said.

After making continuous calls, Jane was allowed an hour with John on Wednesday.

"I feel like I can finally sleep when I go home," she said.

But with it looking likely that he has weeks in the hospital ahead, she doesn't know when or if she'll be allowed back in.

"I'll fight again," she said.

North Memorial Health provided this statement to WCCO:

At North Memorial Health, the wellness and safety of our team members, customers and visitors is always our top priority. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have regularly reviewed and updated our visitor policies based on guidance from the CDC and the Minnesota Department of Health. We will continue to do so as we closely monitor the spread of the Delta variant. As a health family, we are committed to ensuring a safe environment for all.

A spokesperson for the Minnesota Department of Health referred us to CDC guidelines that do not set an exact number of visitors for a hospitalized patient.

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