Visitation policy seeks to balance compassion and safety for patients, clinicians

Visitation policy seeks to balance compassion and safety for patients, clinicians

 

We understand and empathize with families who are distressed that they are unable to be with their loved ones in the hospital. Visitor restrictions are difficult choices for us to make as a mission-driven organization that places a high value on compassion. However, we must place the safety of our patients and caregivers first when the risks are so great during this unusual time.

When we made the decision to restrict visitation in March, we made every effort to keep patients being treated in our hospital, their families, and our caregivers safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Those concerns remain as important today with the Anchorage case rate showing continued evidence of spread throughout the community.

Intensive Care Units are places of care for the most vulnerable patients in a hospital. This is even more so since the onset of COVID-19. In a recent study, patients admitted to an ICU with COVID-19 had a combined ICU mortality of 41.6%. The in‐ICU mortality from COVID‐19 is higher than usually seen in ICU admissions with other viral pneumonias. One COVID-19 exposure within an intensive care unit could have deadly ramifications to other patients and our staff.

Providence’s visitation policy is consistent with other Anchorage hospitals. Unlike large, metropolitan areas in the Lower 48, our hospital visitation restrictions take into account the limited number of clinicians available to care for hospitalized Alaskans. A COVID-19 outbreak would be devastating not only for the patients we care for but could result in a dramatic reduction in the number of clinicians available to care for them. 

Because COVID-19 is new and we continue to learn more about the disease, we must continue to take all precautions to reduce its spread. Providence regularly evaluates our visitor restrictions to prevent transmission of COVID-19 within our ministries and community. These safety protocols have evolved over time to include several exceptions that balance compassion and the safety of all patients. While Providence Alaska Medical Center continues to restrict visitation to the hospital, we provide limited exceptions in accordance with State of Alaska mandate 15.

We are compassionate to how important it is for family members to be with their loved ones while in the hospital and have implemented processes — including virtual visits, when appropriate and possible — to ensure the safety of some of our most vulnerable patients in the hospital.  As we consider the safety of patients, families, and the community, we will continue to monitor the risk of COVID-19 closely and make adjustments that align with local, state and national mandates and recommendations while supporting the health and well-being of those we serve.

For more information, please call the Providence Alaska Public Information Line at (907) 212-2820 or email us at Info.PHSA@providence.org. 

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