Unrestricted Hospital Visiting Hours

Dec 7 , 2019
By Kidist Yidnekachew ( Kidist Yidnekachew has degrees in psychology and journalism and communications. She can be reached at kidyyidnekachew@gmail.com. )

I was at a hospital visiting my uncle and his son who got into a car accident. The accident happened out of nowhere pretty much like all accidents. One minute my uncle and my cousin were eating at our house and the next, I received a call from him saying they were at the hospital. The taxi they were in hit a pole, but somehow everyone in the taxi had survived.

At first I thought it was some kind of sick joke. But I gathered myself and raced to the hospital. I saw my cousin first. He was fine. My uncle on the other hand was in the x-ray room, and I did not see him immediately. The first room I entered to look for them was an emergency room, and there were a lot of visitors standing outside and some of them talking to the guard. I paid little attention to them and got inside. There were people in pain, and the room smelled like suffering. Then all was fine except for my uncle complaining that his back hurts a little, and my little cousin was still terrified from the accident.

One thing I forgot to mention is my entire family was at the hospital, by the time we left it was around 6:30 pm. There was a crowd outside waiting to get into the hospital but being kept out by the security personnel. There were three doors. One was closed, the other was for vehicles and the third was for visitors. But since that was the only door open people were forced to get in and out of the hospital using only that door, unless they were in a car of course.

There usually are visitors outside this door pushing to get in, because the guards do not let them in, depending on whether visiting hours are either over or have not restarted. I was watching while the crowd kept pushing, and the guards grew angry. They were pushing back, enraged, even hitting some of the visitors. Then the crowd was strong enough to push past the guards and got into the hospital.

Right then one of the guards who was already in a heated back and forth with most of the visitors ended up kicking a few of them. It did not stop there. After the visitors were inside the compound, one of them was standing there ready to fight with the guard, and they did. The rest of us were held up, while they were going at it.

I was mad, because the visitors came to the hospital with only one purpose in their mind, seeing their loved ones. I try to put myself in their shoes. They are eager to see the patients, they want to give them the things they brought for them, and they want to spend some time with them. They just want to buy some time, because they do not know if the patients will be there tomorrow. Why were these people held up in the first place? Why were they not treated with compassion and understanding even if they have to wait?

This is the hospital’s rule, I know, and the guards were there to reinforce it, but I felt like they could have been nicer to the visitors. Then my other uncle said, “The guards are right. Rules and regulations have to be respected. The visitors were acting like savages and deserved it. They pushed the guards, and it is natural for the guards to react that way. This is where breaking of the law starts.”

My aunt added “You have seen how noisy they were outside right? Imagine how noisy they would be inside disturbing the patients. That was the whole point of having visiting hours.”

Then I started thinking twice and was curious enough to look up the hospital visiting hours. I did some digging on the surface, and I found out some of the reasons why hospitals have restricted hours. Among these are trying to limit infection transmission, giving patients enough time to rest and giving the caregivers time to treat the patients. But the pros of unrestricted visiting hours should not be overlooked either. It helps the speed of recovery and comforts patients. Visitors do not have to worry about skipping class or leaving early from work to visit. They can come at any time they want. It is important to keep one thing in mind though, patients have the right to not accept visitors and can communicate this with their nurses.

PUBLISHED ON Dec 07,2019 [ VOL 20 , NO 1023]

Kidist Yidnekachew has degrees in psychology and journalism and communications. She can be reached at kidyyidnekachew@gmail.com.

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