At many hospitals around the United States, there is a no visitor policy due to Coronavirus (except for those very few circumstances such as end of life care where they will let one person in to see their loved one). This policy is now making me feel a few things and has become an eye-opener in the grand scheme of things. Don't misunderstand me here, I understand the logic behind the no visitor policy but it has changed my outlook when it comes to patient needs and their families for the long haul.
People want to feel like they know what's going on, right? We now (more than ever) have to be the bridge between the patient and their families. It reminds us that this relationship was always important. Only this time, we have to go out of our way to keep families notified of what goes on as opposed to typically seeing family or friends at bedside and talking to them whenever they asked (poor habits, we know but what are you going to do).
Although we try the best we can, situations like these humble us and remind us that we don't do it enough and how this relationship with our patients, their friends, or family members goes a long way in the grand scheme of things. As healthcare workers, we know that getting a history from everyone (patient, family, friends, etc.) allows us to understand what goes on with our patients but many times because we get busy with the stress around work we don't do it as much as we would like.
An experience I recently had in the ICU brought me back to that:
#1 I was able to get the appropriate history that I couldn't get from the patient
#2 I eased the families nerves about what is going on so that everyone can make rational decisions
#3 We can find out what the patient really wants
(especially when the patient isn't able to tell you)
#4 We finally develop that repertoire that we've always been searching for
#5 Maybe the most important point for me, I remembered why we do the job that we do
We risk our lives for these patients and these families but also, for these moments of clarity. It reminded me that working together leads to the best possible outcomes and that RELATIONSHIPS no matter what kind, are EVERYTHING.
x, The SecretScope
Dr. Samantha Gelman
+ Check out our COVID-19: Where is the PPE? Blog post here