Saturday, March 03, 2007

How a patient changed a hospital policy

In December I did a post about an experience with a nonprofit hospital that had my wife and me furious.

When the hospital, whose slogan is "We care for you", tried to enforce a policy that required Sarah to go home rather than to stay the night with me, I called the administrator at home at 10:20 p.m. and said that if the hospital enforced the policy it would be the last time I used the hospital. The administrator worked the magic that top administrators can do. Sarah stayed the night.

A week later I was back in the hospital with pneumonia. One night I asked if my daughter, a nurse also, could stay the night with me. The CNA that I made the request to said, "I don't know. They're really screwy about such things." When she came back to let me know she could stay she let me know that I "sure was lucky."

I was glad that she made that comment, implying that I was lucky to have the power to pull strings because it helped me ask the question: "Do I want this hospital to be a good for me and my family or good for all patients and families?

After the two hospital stays I began lobbying the administrator by e-mail to change the policy. I knew that both my family physician and surgeon had lobbied him. My family doc encouraged me (and my family) to take it to the hospital board, but I wanted to work first with the administrator.

We exchanged a series of e-mails and he promised to work on it. Then I received this e-mail recently:

Just wanted to let you know that the policy re: visitors staying overnight has been formally modified. In short, a visitor/family member/significant other may stay overnight with a patient upon request as long as it does not impede with routine nursing care or contradict physicians order. Due to space limitations, we need to limit the overnight policy to one person at a time in the room but it is rare that more than one person requests the accommodation.

Again, thanks for bringing this to our attention.

I am proud to use the Illinois Valley Community Hospital in Peru, IL as my hospital and am grateful for the leadership of Steve Hayes. With a little help from their patients, they really do care for you.