I have been working in Labor & Delivery for about four years now. On occasion, I have disagreed with a co-worker or two about allowing visitors into our department. In January, we moved in to the new tower, to a much bigger unit with locked doors. Since that time, some of my co-workers have become even stricter about visitation from family and friends. A couple of times, I have felt very uncomfortable over this issue.
Now there is a committee examining this issue. The leader of this committee, Kim, sent out an e-mail asking us to elicit the opinions of our patients and their families on the visitation policy. I took this opportunity to voice my opinion by sending an e-mail to Kim, with copies sent to KR , the director over Women's and Children's Services, and to JS, the Director of Nursing for our hospital. This is the message I sent:
I wanted to provide some feedback with regard to your recent e-mail concerning the visitation policy. I have strong opinions on this topic.
I am a firm believer in Family-Centered Maternity Care. I know some of my co-workers are complaining that I am personally too lax on visitation and I know my practice is part of the "inconsistancies" in visitation, but I believe in allowing loved-ones to be with the laboring mother if she so desires. I cannot, in good conscience, refuse to allow a patient the comfort of her children, her family, or whoever it is that brings her a sense of security and gives her a positive view of her birth experience. I believe it should be the patient's decision who is allowed in the labor room (so long as the situation is safe).
I realize that is is sometimes a pain to work around several people in the room. I realize they are sometimes annoying. But I am willing to put up with that annoyance to create happy memories and promote family togetherness for my patients; as our hospital's own booklet states, "Having a baby is a joyous, family experience." This same booklet also advertises, "Our Labor & Delivery Services are designed to allow each mother to have the kind of birth experience she desires... If you wish, your family can be with you throughout labor, delivery and recovery." If we are not going to provide Family-Centered Maternity Care, why do we advertise that we do so?
With trepidation, I hit the "send" key and sent the message off. My very vocal co-workers who desire to keep family and friends away from our unit are constantly spouting the "visitation policy" which seems to back up their opinion. My thoughts as I sent the e-mail were that I was going against hospital policy and I may very well end up fired. I was also thinking that if we keep this policy and insist that we nurses follow it, I may end up working some place else by choice. I feel so strongly about this that I was willing to lose my job over it and truly thought I may end up doing just that.
Wow! Did I receive the opposite reaction! I was amazed when the following message arrived from JS, Director of Nursing:
Kathy: thank you for your willingness to express your opinion and most importantly having the patient and family centric view that you have. Now lets see if we can get your colleagues to re-examine their position.
A couple of hours later, I received a message from CG, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the hospital. I nearly cried when I read:
Kathy, I love your passion about this. I lost my grandfather years ago when I was 15 and was not allowed into ICU to visit and the negative experience has stayed with me to this day. He died on Christmas Eve and it still haunts me how I was treated. It propelled me into nursing and as an advocate for visitors and the family centered care model. I applaud your efforts and hope you can be a champion to assist with changing the culture that seems to have developed in the mother-baby area. JS sent your e-mail on to me as he was so pleased to get such a positive response. Nice Job. Thank you for caring about families and making a difference one patient at a time. They do remember!!!!
I could hardly believe it! Not only was I not fired, but the big-wigs agree with me!!!! Too cool! I haven't heard yet from KR, my immediate director, but maybe when I go to work again there will be something from her. I'm very curious to hear her opinion.
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