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.