Hospitals consider special accommodations to permit visitors amid pandemic

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INDIANAPOLIS – Hospitals across Indiana are evaluating visitation policies every day.

Right now, most people can’t visit their loved ones in the hospital due to COVID-19 concerns.

However, some hospitals are considering special accommodations in the coming days and weeks.

“It’s a terrible feeling, I mean, not being there,” said James Buis.

He has a sister at Franciscan Health hospital in Indianapolis right now who had to have her leg surgically removed. He’d really like the chance to see her in person.

“Once a week or something like that for a family member to come in and see her, I mean, for her sake, you know?” said Buis. “Being all alone, it’s been troublesome, that’s for sure.”

Like most hospitals— Franciscan Health doesn’t allow visitors. Media relations manager Joe Stuteville shared its policy with us Wednesday.

IU Health emergency Dr. Timothy Ellender agreed to interview about this topic.

“While it is a burden for you to not be there with them, the reason we are doing all of these things and taking these great steps is to limit the potential for COVID exposure in those who don’t have COVID and have other medical conditions,” said Ellender.

But he has advice for getting the best possible care for your loved ones. He said providing a written document with their medication and health history is very helpful.

“That allows us at least to get a start on treatment and evaluation, and then obviously, we can contact via phone to get more information,” said Dr. Ellender.

IU Health said it is starting to go beyond a phone call now.

“Setting areas where the family can come to communicate with the care teams, those are still in evolution, so I can’t really speak to the exact details of where all those things are occurring,” explained Dr. Ellender. “But in the coming weeks, we will continue to sort of evolve and our COVID numbers, hopefully continue to stay steady and or reduce.”

Buis said he would love to be able to do that with the people caring for his sister.

“Most definitely, that would be, I mean, just to get some information,” explained Buis. He has been able to zoom chat with his sister, but he said it isn’t as frequent as he would like.

IU Health said it has also designated family liaisons to help.

“Communication has always been kind of a shortcoming of that sort of care paradigm,” said Ellender. “And I think these new ombudsmans or whatever you want to call them, communication experts, are going to be probably important even in an era outside of COVID.”

Buis said there’s nothing like being able to see people in person for both the patient and loved ones.

“It’s not like having family, so mentally on both sides, its been really tough,” said Buis.

Ellender said IU Health is constantly monitoring COVID-19 data to determine when it might open back up to visitors in the future.

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