Suncoast hospitals use technology to go around visitation barriers

Connecting Families Amid Hospital Visitation Ban

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - As coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continue to climb in Florida, all Suncoast hospitals have reinstated a “no visitation” policy in order to control the spread of the virus. However, this rule is making it very difficult for patients and their families to feel connected.

Being in the hospital alone can be scary, whether you have COVID-19 or even any other medical issue, but it can be just as hard for your family who has no idea what is going on inside those hospital walls.

“The struggle for the families is really emotionally difficult. They’re just hungry for information about their loved one,” explained Dr. Joseph Seaman, Critical Care Pulmonologist at Sarasota Memorial Hospital.

Many of the hospitals on the Suncoast have decided to adapt and help those going through these very difficult times by setting up Facetime, Zoom and Skype calls. Plus, Lakewood Ranch Medical Center has also launched a smartphone app called EASE– specifically for those patients who are undergoing surgery.

Nurses can send real-time video, images, and text updates in nine different languages. The app is available for both apple and android devices, and is completely free for patients and their families.

“It can be to anyone regardless of where they are. They could be right next door, or waiting out in the parking lot, or somebody on the other side of the world. It doesn’t matter, it’ll get to them. It’s all up to the patient to decide who those messages get to,” Kimberly Meadows, the OR Clinical Leader for Lakewood Ranch Medical Center, tells us.

It’s these patients that are the number one priorities for hospitals right now. Nurses are now also being trained on offering hands-on assistance with phone calls and real-time visits using phones and mobile tablet technology.

“Typically when someone has a significant illness in the hospital, they’ll have family or friends come and support them, but that’s missing,” said Dr. Seaman.

That’s why doctors, nurses and staff say they are making sure every person who gets admitted to their facility will have a line of communication to someone outside of the hospital.

“There’s a lot of things on your mind when your inside the hospital. You don’t know all the answers, and you want to talk to somebody in confidence about it, and you want a familiar face. It’s really important to have that socialization, that interaction. It’s a big part of what a hospital does, and it’s a big part of healing actually,” explained Kevin DiLallo, CEO & President of Manatee Memorial Hospital.

Doctors say emotional connection is sometime a medicine in itself, so they want to be sure they’re giving all their patients the dose they need.

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