Patient Experience in the Age of COVID-19

Written By: Kristin Baird, RN, BSN, MHA

The term “patient and family-centered care” has taken on new meaning in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of what we, in healthcare, have held up as patient experience standards have taken a back seat to acuity, high census, and infection control.

As an industry, we have worked hard to foster a welcoming and personalized patient & family-centered care (PFCC) model that gives the patient as much control as possible during their hospitalization.  That same model also encourages family involvement every step of the way.  With the rapid spread of COVID-19, hospitals have had to restrict visitors, leaving patients separated from their support systems.

Day after day, we hear news stories of patients suffering through their hospitalizations without the comfort of family and friends at their bedsides. Doctors and nurses on the frontlines are making valiant efforts to, not only provide medical care, but to provide the emotional support typically provided by loved ones. They are spending long days at the bedsides, some even after their shifts have ended, to be a warm voice, a gentle (but gloved) touch, or even tech support to facilitate facetime chats with family members.

What I’ve learned about the nurses and doctors on the front lines is this: The landscape has changed, but the compassion and empathy for others is constant. This is the essence of healthcare. To cure sometimes, to comfort often, and to care always. 

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