The COVID Family Experience – Firsthand

COVID has hit home giving me firsthand insight into the patient and family experience. 

For years, hospitals and health systems have made the patient and family experience a top priority. And for the last several years, great progress has been made on improving patient experience and HCAHPS scores. COVID has dramatically changed the playing field for patient experience more than anything. Our sickest patients cannot have visitors. They’re scared and lonely, relying solely on staff to meet their physical, emotional and social needs. At the same time, nurses are swamped and being asked to field calls from concerned family members.

 Last week one of my sisters was among the thousands hospitalized with COVID. Like so many, she has underlying conditions that place her at an elevated risk. To further complicate matters, she is developmentally disabled. 

Knowing that the nurses were swamped, I hesitated to call for additional updates on my sister. When I mentioned this to one of the nurses, she replied, “Let us be your eyes and ears. We know this is hard for you to not be here. We’re here for you and we’re here for your sister.”

This message was exactly what my family and I needed. Her words not only helped me, but as a close-knit family separated by miles we all felt it. The effect of her kind words rippled as I shared that comment with my brothers and sisters in Colorado, Iowa, and New Jersey. 

When family members cannot be there, it’s the nurses who provide the comfort, information and socialization. Thank you to all the nurses who are working so hard and nurturing not only the patients in the beds but the families as well. 

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