No Visitors Allowed!

No Visitors Allowed!

There are some nasty bugs floating around and we are getting into flu season, a scary time for family members of children with weakened immune systems or frequent hospital visits. We gave some easy reminders on how to keep the bugs away but what if you do get stuck in the hospital?

Early season on the flu and these crazy bugs means that hospitals are already enforcing strict visiting hours and rules. Local to me we see that children who are hospitalized cannot have any visitors under the age of 12. Also – What happened when a parent has long work hours that keep them away until after visiting hours are over? These restrictions happen all over the country with the hospitals citing visitors bring bugs in and out of the hospital but is that really the case? And does the harm that can be done outweigh all the good?

One example of a case where this rule works against a family happened recently. There is a parent in one of my support groups who had a child that was hospitalized with a nasty virus and she was really struggling because of the recent rule change about visitors in the hospital. The reason? She was nursing a younger sibling who was not allowed in the hospital. What does this mom do? Does she stay away from the child she is nursing or the child who needs her support in the hospital? In this case the family was exposed to the bug prior to admittance.

I have personal experience where these rules hurt my family. My twins were born at 30 weeks, my typical twin got to leave the hospital on Oxygen at 28 days but my daughter was there for 89. We were not allowed to have our twins in the same room together for the two months before Dylan came home. What did this mean to our family? It meant that rarely were my husband and I able to be at the hospital together with our daughter. It meant that, at a time when we were receiving devastating diagnosis after diagnosis, one of us had to receive the news and in turn, deliver it back to the other.

What’s wrong with this picture?

The truth is, there are many benefits to the patient when they have family visit them. It’s what they want. And many nurses welcome visitors because there is a marked improvement in patient’s health.

So why again the restrictions? Are we sure it has to do with spreading germs? Germs that the rest of the family was already exposed to prior to the hospital stay. Or is it because family gets in the way, asks too many questions, crowds the rooms? Or maybe security for visitors coming in is too costly or time consuming? If this is the case, are hospitals really putting the emphasis on what the patient wants and needs to feel better?

A 2011 report quoted in this article (“Should Hospitals Be Open For Visitors 24/7”) claims that along with improving patient and family satisfaction “patients receive more emotional support, which improves the patients’ emotional health and in turn their physical well-being. Having family members present more often means families are able to participate in a loved one’s care more fully and can help plan for the care the patient needs when they get out of hospital.”

Huge! The benefits are HUGE!

As family centered care becomes more and more the focus of hospitals, as hospitals become more competitive and patient satisfaction is a priority, it’s time for the patients to be the drivers of change. Do you have a problem with your hospital’s visiting hours? Let’s do something about it.

This fact and figures sheet, Better Together, can be printed and given to your hospital. More great information and resources can be found by the group that created it, the Institute for Patient and Family Centered Care, their website is www.ipfcc.org.

Do you have a story where strict visiting hours have caused a problem for you or the patient? Please share so we can get the word out. Change starts here.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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