Since its implementation on May 27, 2020, the current visitation policy for UofL Health is one visitor per patient for the length of that admission, along with the 10 a.m.-7 p.m. hours, has understandably been an adjustment for our staff, our patients and our visitors. We know this has caused anxiety and frustration for some, as it is generally human nature to want to be close to those that we care about in times of suffering or crisis. UofL Health seeks to keep our patients, visitors, and staff safe while also providing world-class care to our vulnerable populations in accordance with the guidelines from the CDC, as well as state and local officials.
Being an advocate, as well as being a caregiver, comes with many joys and frustrations even during the best of times. As the global pandemic continues, UofL Health wanted to share what we have learned that may improve your experience as a patient or visitor.
What to expect
Some of the adjustments, in addition to allowing a single visitor during certain hours, are that masks are required everywhere in our facilities, waiting rooms are closed, and visitors are generally expected to remain in the room of the patient they are accompanying. Again, these changes follow the intentions of UofL Health to provide the safest environment in our facilities, for those we serve.
As you enter any of our facilities, you will find a screening table where employees of our organization will take your temperature, ask you a few questions about your health and visit, as well as provide a face mask for you should you be without, though it is encouraged that you arrive with a mask in place, covering your nose and mouth.
While you should expect to spend visiting hours with the patient, there are still amenities for your utilization, such as our cafeterias, gift shops, and cafes where available. Although you cannot dine in the food service areas, you can get a meal to take back to the patient room. Travel to and from these areas should be kept as expedient as possible, for increased foot traffic in hallways and common areas make appropriate physical distancing more difficult.
A commonly heard statement from patients is, “I didn’t expect to be here.” While the sometimes unexpected nature of hospital visits can make it difficult to plan on having belongings at the ready, there are some things that should always accompany a patient to the hospital, such as a list of important contacts with their information, a list of any medications being taken to include dose and frequency, a copy of any advanced directives, and an identification card, along with any insurance cards.
In addition to these helpful items, there are several things that patients have found useful, if there is time to pack a hospital bag, or if you are looking for “care package” items to bring for the patient when visiting:
- A smart phone or tablet, with charging cord/plug. Patients will often have a phone available in their room, but it can be of great comfort to have the ability to video chat with loved ones who cannot visit, or when it is outside of visiting hours. One of the most commonly forgotten items seems to be the charging cord/plug to accompany these devices, so take extra care in remembering this necessary accessory.
- Headphones, and any accompanying accessory, if needed
- A book or magazine for entertainment
- Lip balm
- Shower shoes/flip-flops/hard-soled slippers for moving about the room
- Notepad and writing utensil, which are great for patients and visitors to have for writing questions that may arise for doctors/nurses, so that those questions are not forgotten when the appropriate parties are rounding
- A deck of cards for entertainment
- A personal container of hand sanitizer
- Preferred toiletries, although some basic toiletries should be available on individual units.
- A backup pair of glasses/readers
- A “comfort item” as needed, such as a family photograph or a beloved blanket, or a robe/sweater for those prone to feeling cold
Acting as advocate/caregiver
Stepping into the role of advocate/caregiver for another is almost always done with a great amount of care for that individual. With that known, it is paramount that those acting in these roles know that you must first care for yourself, before you can attend to the needs of others. Please use the time outside of the set visiting hours to attend to your own physical and emotional needs—make sure that you are eating, attending to your personal hygiene, and checking in with your support system. Even if there is only one visitor per patient stay, utilize as much support as you are able.
You should also know that you are not doing this alone—we are all in this together, and we will get through this together. Those that are working within health care at this time, and especially within our walls, do so with great passion for the health and well-being of those that we serve. The nurses and nurse managers of our individual units are your first line of support, and always a great resource, but you can also always ask for a patient experience representative, or for someone in chaplaincy to assist in providing the best care for our patients.