Make hospi­tal vis­it­ing hours 24/7

Modern Healthcare - - COMMENT - By Anna Roth and Sherry B. Perkins Anna Roth is CEO of Con­tra Costa Re­gional Med­i­cal Cen­ter and Health Cen­ters, Martinez, Calif., and Sherry B. Perkins is chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer and chief nurs­ing of­fi­cer of Anne Arun­del Med­i­cal Cen­ter, Annapolis, Md.

Imag­ine telling a grand­fa­ther that his young grand­son, whom he raised, can’t visit him while he’s in the hospi­tal in­ten­sive-care unit be­cause it’s af­ter vis­it­ing hours. The grand­fa­ther dies. The two didn’t have a chance to say good­bye. This in­ci­dent hap­pened at Con­tra Costa Re­gional Med­i­cal Cen­ter. Oth­ers like it have oc­curred at Anne Arun­del Med­i­cal Cen­ter.

As lead­ers at these hos­pi­tals, we once be­lieved re­stric­tive vis­it­ing poli­cies were needed to pre­vent the spread of in­fec­tion and to make sure no one in­ter­fered with pa­tient care. Al­though many U.S. hos­pi­tals con­tinue these poli­cies, we now know that, de­spite our best in­ten­tions, we were wrong. Such poli­cies treat fam­ily mem­bers as vis­i­tors. What we as lead­ers need to re­al­ize is that hos­pi­tals are vis­i­tors in peo­ples’ lives, not the other way around.

Stud­ies show that ac­cess to fam­ily and loved ones re­duces pa­tient com­pli­ca­tions and stress and im­proves the pa­tient’s ex­pe­ri­ence of care in the hospi­tal. That’s why we’ve ended re­stric­tive vis­it­ing poli­cies and over the past few years we’ve wel­comed pa­tients’ fam­i­lies and loved ones 24 hours a day. We al­ready are see­ing im­proved pa­tient and staff sat­is­fac­tion. We be­lieve this is bet­ter care and will lead to im­proved health out­comes.

But to re­al­ize the ben­e­fits—for pa­tients, fam­i­lies and the bot­tom line—we’ve had to change our en­tire ap­proach to care and treat pa­tients and their loved ones as es­sen­tial mem­bers of the health­care team. We rely on fam­i­lies’ crit­i­cal sup­port to help pa­tients heal. That’s what has made the dif­fer­ence.

So why aren’t more hos­pi­tals do­ing this? Maybe they don’t know how. For­tu­nately, the In­sti­tute for Pa­tient- and Fam­ily-Cen­tered Care just launched a cam­paign called Bet­ter To­gether: Part­ner­ing with Fam­i­lies to give hos­pi­tals tools to change their poli­cies and en­gage fam­i­lies as care part­ners.

How is it done? A first step is to bring to­gether ev­ery­one in­volved—clin­i­cians, pa­tient and fam­ily ad­vis­ers, se­cu­rity guards and oth­ers—as a team to guide the ef­fort. Visit the in­sti­tute’s web­site — — for sam­ple poli­cies and case stud­ies ex­plain­ing how other hos­pi­tals did it.

Hos­pi­tals’ lead­ers should do the right thing and give pa­tients 24/7 ac­cess to their loved ones and em­brace them as part­ners in care. Many hos­pi­tals are al­ready do­ing it suc­cess­fully. What’s stop­ping you?

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