America’s “new normal” during the coronavirus pandemic is affecting common practices in and outside the home.
Patients in particular are experiencing a routine change, namely those used to having hospital visitors before or after a surgery or treatment. The current, but necessary, limited visitation policy is putting a strain on them, reducing their support system and even lowering their confidence in their ability to heal.
While visitation is restricted, the Patient Relations department at UF Health Jacksonville and nurses and other staff at UF Health North decided to control the uncontrollable, crafting simple yet meaningful ways to support patients while keeping them safe.
Technology today allows everyone to connect easily, no matter where they are. Video calls can serve as the next best thing to in-person communication. After the visitation policy changed, nurses and staff knew patients would still desire some sort of contact with loved ones.
On April 1, Patient Relations at UF Health Jacksonville began offering an alternative way for families to rekindle connections amid social distancing requirements — televisits through the Zoom application. This way, patients could see and talk with their family members online. These televisits have instilled a sense of peace for families, as they’ve given all participants opportunities to express their chosen words and emotions in a more meaningful way than a simple phone call or text.
Nurses at UF Health North have spent extra time with patients, teaching them how to video chat with their family and friends before surgery or treatment. Once patients saw a familiar face on their screen, it eased fears and built trust with the nurses.
Though it seems like a simple step to take before a procedure, patients have been extremely appreciative of these gestures. Connecting virtually yet visually has been a noteworthy method of communication for all during these trying times.
“The comments and experiences from this innovative approach have been astounding,” said Erta Livingston, PhD, director of patient relations at UF Health Jacksonville. “These televisits trigger may emotions for patients and their loved ones in this time of the ‘new normal.’ Many of them have told us how thankful they are.”
From one family to another
Staff members on the north campus are also supporting patients by using their children’s talents and creativity. Because patients in the hospital can’t have visitors during their stay, this eliminates the typical get well gifts and cards brought to them. The staff was determined to find another way to help patients recover.
Most staff members’ children have been staying home during the pandemic, allowing them ample time for fun crafts and creative expression. It was a win-win to add card-making to their kids’ routine, extending their creative time with a project that benefits others.
One particular patient was extremely emotional upon receiving a card, as the message was more personal. The patient, a military veteran, opened the card and read, “Thank you for your service.” This hit home for him, as the sentiment was even more meaningful than a simple “get well” note.
All patients have been deeply thankful for these extra efforts. Though much of the COVID-19 pandemic involves a lot of uncertainty, one thing that remains constant is UF Health staff’s compassion for patients.