Columbus Regional Healthcare System has issued new visiting hours for patients in the Critical Care Unit.
“Until recently, we had completely open hours, and that could feel like a bit of a free-for-all, especially at shift change,” said Jenny Fonvielle, RN, BSN, nurse manager for the Critical Care Unit. “Patients require rest for healing, so it’s good for them to get a break, even from their loved ones. Family members need a break from the bedside, too. It can be difficult for them to just walk away. Scheduled visiting hours allow families a chance to get outside, get something to eat and clear their heads.”
Nurses, too, need time to make notes for the next shift, Fonvielle noted. Shift changes had previously been a little chaotic, Fonvielle said, as nurses tried to provide patient care, answer questions from the family and ensure the next nurse on duty had thorough updates.
“Now, nurses have a few uninterrupted minutes to leave good notes for the next shift,” Fonvielle added. “That is crucial in providing an excellent continuum of care.”
The next nurse on duty has time to review the patient’s chart and be prepared to answer questions from the family during the next visiting hours.
The new visiting hours total 7-1/2 hours each day. A team spent two months studying visiting hours at other area hospitals, including New Hanover Regional Medical Center, Southeastern Regional Medical Center in Lumberton and Grand Strand Medical Center. The team noted that CRHS’s new Critical Care Unit visiting hours are more lenient than other area hospitals.
Hours are 5-6 a.m. and 9-10 a.m., noon-3 p.m., 5-6 p.m., and 8:30-10 p.m.
There is a limit of two visitors at any given time.
Visiting hours don’t apply to patients who are nearing the end of life. Families can be with those patients at all hours.
The hospital staff makes every effort to accommodate families visiting their loved one, Fonvielle said; however, there are times when access must be restricted. Examples include if the patient needs privacy and rest, is at risk of infection from the visitor, or if the visitor is at risk of infection by the patient.
Other commonsense precautions include children under 12 being accompanied and supervised by an adult family member and people with runny noses, coughs, sore throats, diarrhea, aa rash or fever refraining from visiting.
“This is really a patient-first policy,” said Fonvielle. “But we understand families are critical in the healing process, so we’ve also made sure families have lots of access at all hours of the day.”