Many hospitals in American implemented
a no visitor policy in March 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic
grew worse and then implemented the policy again in November
/ December 2020 as coronavirus cases increased.
Hospital administrators are responsible
for controlling the spread of COVID-19 and other contagious
illnesses, but the zero-visitor policy is too extreme and violates
a patient’s rights.
It was very encouraging that most
hospitals allow pediatric and obstetrical patients to have at
least one visitor (support person) with them during this pandemic.
The truth is that all patients deserve to be treated in a similarly
ethical manner. It’s inhumane for patients to
be forced to recover or even die without one family member present.
If it is possible
to use infection control measures such as health screenings
and required masks to move doctors and nurses, cooks and janitors,
in and out of health-care facilities safely, then there is no
reason why a family member or a friend cannot follow the same
steps as hospital employees.
Hospital administrators must
understand the important role that loved ones can provide as
members of the care team.
it’s imperative for all patients to have accessibility
to those who are physically and exclusively present on their
behalf – not caregivers hired by the hospital who may
have a conflict of interest. Because of limited time devoted
to each patient, it’s impossible for even the best medical
professionals to provide personalized attention to each patient.
Technology is not a substitution for in-person interaction,
respectful advocacy, and protection from abuse, despite the
hospital’s best efforts. For these reasons, each patient
must be afforded the constant presence of at least one support
person at all times.
2.) The truth is medical professionals
have a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 because of their
numerous interactions with sick patients than asymptomatic family
3.) A patient’s inability
to have a support person often prevents him/her from receiving
the best possible medical care. For example, in March 2020 when
a lady’s mother had a stroke, the lady was told she couldn’t
stay due to COVID-19. If the daughter hadn’t been present
at night on two separate occasions, her mother would have fallen
out of bed. Even with the bed alarm on, the medical staff couldn’t
have gotten to her quickly enough. The support person’s
ability to share medical history and allergic reactions to medications,
as well as assistance is invaluable. When patients don’t
have an advocate, doctors and nurses can become overworked which
often causes quality of medical care to go down.
4.) When there is a no visitor
policy, more patients will avoid life-saving medical care because
they do not want to recover alone at the hospital without their
5.) The inability for patients
to have a family member present with them as they recover has
many consequences which hinders the overall recovery. Some of
the consequences are: loneliness, lack of comfort, lost will
to live, no one to advocate for patients’ wishes for modesty
and numerous other issues, etc. Many patients prefer family
members, especially spouses, to assist with personal care, i.e.,
bathing, dressing. Patients should always have their wishes
6.) Many hospital administrators
make an exemption for pediatric patients during a no-visitor
policy because they realize that pediatric patients would be
traumatized if they could not see at least one parent. It is
important for hospital administrators to understand that many
adult patients are traumatized too when they cannot have a loved
one with them as they recover. Some patients who are forced
to recover alone may end up with PTSD and avoid medical care
in the future that could even cost their lives.
A better solution to control
spread of a contagious illness especially COVID-19 is requiring
all patients’ visitors to:
1.) Undergo health screenings with temperature
checks and special questionnaires 2.) Remain with the patient they are supporting
and no interactions with other patients 3.) Wear masks
All patients and their families are encouraged
to not comply with the zero-visitor policy and challenge hospitals
until they give in and honor patients’ right to have a
support person even during a pandemic. Every hospital
must allow every patient at least one support person not employed
by the hospital to be present with her/him at all times.
The zero-visitor policy, even
during a pandemic, is inhumane and should never be implemented.
To end this horrible policy, we need to unite our voices and
challenge any hospitals that implement this policy.
For many years, husbands were not allowed to be present for
their wives’ C-Sections until a number of people challenged
this policy. In the 1970s and 1980s, this policy changed because
so many people voiced their opposition to this policy.
All caring hospital employees are encouraged to put pressure
on hospital administrators to abandon this horrible policy.