Letters – March 2012

Family Visitation

I realize how beneficial it is to have family at the bedside. It supports a patient’s well-being and aids healing. But too much visitation can overwhelm the patient, the family and caregivers, too.

I like the idea of designating one family member, significant other or friend as the primary person to be at the bedside as a primary visitor. When too many people hover over a patient, it interferes with necessary rest and with what a nurse needs to do.

Theresa Bilse-Kraft
Shoreview, Minn.

I have worked in an urban trauma center my entire 20-year career. For the past 15 years I have incorporated some form of open visitation into my practice and have never had a bad outcome because of it.

I have included report time, pet visits and family presence during code blue and trauma resuscitation. I’ve learned that early family care, which respects the need for open communication, proximity and compassion, avoids many of the problems described in February’s Facebook posts.

Patrick Duncan
Kansas City, Kan.

Our CVICU implemented open visitation for families over a year ago. We found that most families feel more comfortable leaving the patient, knowing they can return at any time.

We also found that families don’t stay around the clock — although we have accommodations, such as a pull-out sofa, refrigerators and a separate TV for their comfort. Other ICUs followed our lead and implemented open visitation. All of us have seen increased patient satisfaction because of these family-focused changes.

Shelley Welch
Tyler, Texas

Nurses need to advocate for 24-hour family visitation in ICUs. An acute illness is already traumatic. When you cannot be with your relative, it creates a difficult hospital course for everyone involved.

I am a neonatal ICU nurse, and my family experienced the frustration of rigid visitation policies after my dad’s heart attack. It broke our hearts whenever we missed visiting hours.

Two years ago my sister had a six-week ICU stay in a different hospital. It had been open less than a year and planned for open visitation with two recliners in every room. I credit her recovery to the ICU nurses and respiratory therapists, her primary physician, the consulting pulmonologist and definitely to our family’s presence.

The professional and very patient staff acknowledged that being on the other side is tough, and they embraced our stay. It is definitely a challenge for hospitals to accept this change, but it can be done.

Suzanna M. Feliciano
San Antonio, Texas

Nurses May Not Earn More

I’m always amazed and disappointed with articles about nursing salaries such as the one in January. I live one hour from Pittsburgh and two hours from Columbus, Ohio.

Our cost of living isn’t really lower, yet I earn less than $22 an hour as an ICU charge nurse with more than 25 years of experience. That’s not even close to the national average.

Similar discrepancies based on where one lives and works show up in articles that discuss administrative and nurse-physician issues, because every nurse doesn’t work in a large teaching hospital or regional referral center.

I live in a time warp of sorts where it’s hard to change attitudes. And unfortunately even new doctors eventually pick up old-boy habits.

Susan Huntsman
St. Clairsville, Ohio

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Include your name, credentials, city, state and email address (for verification).

Write to aacnboldvoices@aacn.org.

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