A guide to being a good visitor to your loved one
At Vidant Beaufort Hospital, we love our patients, visitors and family. Our goal is to provide excellent patient and family centered care to our community. A visit from a family member or a friend can be an important part of the healing process, and we want you to know we welcome you. Here are a few tips to keep you, your family and our patients safe when you visit.
Please do not visit if you are sick. If you have been sick within the past 24 hours or currently feel unwell or have a fever, do not come to the hospital. If you are considering bringing children with you to visit, remember you may be exposing them to germs and viruses that are present in a hospital environment. No matter how clean the hospital is, there are still many germs and viruses that can make children ill.
Keep visits short. At best, it is very difficult to rest in the hospital as patients are in a different environment where medical personnel check on them hourly. Lights and sounds are not familiar. Often the “sounds of safety” that keep our patient’s safe also keep them awake.
Wash your hands. This is the most important advice for visiting someone in the hospital. Handwashing is the number one way to prevent spread of germs and viruses. Wash before entering a room, after touching anything and when leaving the room. The hospital has hand sanitizer strategically placed throughout, so please use it often.
Keep visitors limited. Too many people can be overwhelming, and more than two visitors at a time can really strain a patient. We want our patients to be comfortable and get the care they need and deserve. Too many people in a patient’s room make it difficult for medical personnel to reach the patient. Also, if someone is sleeping, please let them sleep.
Pay attention to the signs. (Listed below are signs you may see on a patient room door). All gloves, gowns and masks are provided on the door. If you have a question or you do not see what is needed, please notify the nurse.
- Stop Contact Sign: hand hygiene (hand sanitizer or soap and water) before and after entering room, wear gloves and wear gown.
- Stop Special Enteric Contact Precautions: wash hands with soap and water before and leaving the room (hand sanitizer is not effective), wear gloves, wear gown and use bleach to clean anything that you have taken into the room.
- Stop Droplet Precautions: perform hand hygiene before and after entering room and wear a mask.
- Stop Airborne Infection Isolation Precautions: you must have a special mask before you enter the room, perform hand hygiene and keep the door closed at all times. The sign on the door asks you to report to the nurses’ station for the mask.
- Protective Precautions are to protect you from the patient if they have a weakened immune system. This means you must perform hand hygiene before entering and leaving the room, no persons with infections may enter, no plants, no fruit, wear mask, wear gown, and wear gloves.
Cards as gifts. If you are compelled to bring a gift, cards are better than flowers and food. Patients have diet restrictions and fresh flowers can be harmful to patients with suppressed immune systems.
Small talk. Let the patient guide your conversation, stay positive and be a good active listener for your loved one. Lots of people crave normalcy and do not want to talk about their hospital stay while others what to tell you every detail. Again, we welcome you, and we are thankful you take the time to interact with your loved ones. This can really improve patients’ outlook.
Mary Ellen Foreman, BSN, RN, is nurse manager of the Medical Unit at Vidant Beaufort Hospital.