LANSING, Mich. — Chad and Brandon Podolak have spent days at Sparrow trying to watch over their mother who just had surgery. That can’t happen the same way starting tomorrow.
“It’s causing a lot of extra stress and anxiety on our part because we’re trying to get information on what the next steps for our mother is going to be,” Chad said.
Sparrow will limit visitors to one person, per patient, per day — a pill that hasn’t been easy to swallow after a tough 72 hours.
“Even in a normal situation, this would be very stressful for any family,” Chad said. “I understand the need for safety, but everybody is getting screened, we all had masks on, we’ve been in there for three days what’s magical tomorrow about the change?”
To be clear, this is not a universal policy across the health system — patients in pediatrics and women services can still have two visitors throughout their stay. And for those in the emergency department, it was already limited to one person once they are in a room. That will stay the same.
According to Sparrow’s lead nurse, it wasn’t about finding the perfect day as much as responding to the surge that’s flooding the state and her medical team.
“Every single one of our beds is full and we’re holding about 60 patients in our emergency department right now,” said Chief Medical Nurse Amy Brown. “At this point, we thought we need to just try to eliminate some of the additional traffic coming into the hospital.”
The really tricky part, Brown says, is comfort care and end-of-life patients.
“It’s really hard to provide exceptions and we want to try to do the right thing and we want to try to provide our patients to have maybe that end of life visitation form a loved one,” Brown said. “But it’s also challenging when you let one extra person in it turns into two and then four and then 10 and then 20.
“So again, we’re just trying to be very sensitive to our patients’ needs, to our community needs, but then also our caregivers.”
Some hospitals, like McLaren, had never relaxed their policies since the summer.
“Our policy has been consistent, it’s been in place,” said Dr. Linda Peterson, McLaren Greater Lansing’s Chief Medical Officer. “We’ve always allowed one visitor and those patients are always screened and always required to wear a face mask.”
The Podolaks expressed their appreciation for the staff, but say they’re concerned about what comes next.
“The nurses have been great but even here in person it’s taken hours between questions and answers,” Chad said. “So to do something via phone or email or conference or anything is going to be next to impossible, I fear.”