From analog phones to window visits, hospital patients stay in touch with loved ones, remotely
Ellie Reichstein has had to make plenty of difficult decisions as director of inpatient services at Valley View Hospital.
But the COVID-19 pandemic has tested Reichstein in ways like never before, particularly when the decision was made to no longer allow visitors into the hospital except for special circumstances.
“The first day we decided we weren’t going to have visitors anymore at Valley View I had two sleepless nights,” Reichstein said. “These patients may very well be at the end of their life, COVID-related or not.”
Valley View, like hospitals across the county, has had to change its visitation policies to help slow the transmission of COVID-19.
Prior to the pandemic, Valley View Hospital had an open visitation policy, which even allowed visitors to stay with their loved ones in the intensive care unit 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
During the crisis, only children or certain patients like those who might need a family member to make medical decisions for them can have visitors.
“It really is something that we’re looking at on a case-by-case basis,” Reichstein said. “They’re coming to visit a loved one in a facility where there is a real possibility of that visitor being exposed as well.”
According to Reichstein, most patients have stayed in touch with their loved ones through platforms like Zoom or FaceTime.
However, Valley View Hospital also utilized another resource for patients who might not feel comfortable using iPhones or tablet devices.
“The very first thing that we did was bring back some really old school analog phones with speakerphone capabilities,” Reichstein said.
According to Reichstein, the analog phones were set up throughout Valley View’s critical and acute care units for patients to utilize.
Reichstein recalled another instance where a group of family members congregated in Valley View Hospital’s parking lot to simply smile and wave to their loved one inside.
“The nursing staff was able to get the patient over to the window to see the family support outside,” Reichstein said.
Reichstein explained that while the no-visitor policy certainly impacted patients and their loved ones, it also took a toll on healthcare workers themselves.
“They have this deep desire to take care of people,” Reichstein said. “It’s definitely a struggle for my team.”
Grand River Health, like Valley View Hospital, is also trying to keep patients connected to their loved ones as best it could given the circumstances, allowing each inpatient to have one visitor amid the pandemic.
However, it did have to cease visitation altogether at it’s E. Dene Moore Care Center nursing home facility.
There was some initial frustration voiced by family members who couldn’t visit their loved ones, said Chavien Paget, an administrator at Grand River’s E. Dene Moore Care Center.
However, as more information concerning the virus’ spread became known, Paget said the care center’s residents were understanding and in many cases appreciative of the visitor restrictions.
Paget said one resident at the E. Dene Moore Care Center recently turned 96 and her family showed up to celebrate, outside of her window, with signs and balloons.
“We have seen a lot of support from our community and the families who support the care center each day,” Paget said. “It’s been a touching experience.”
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