Contra Costa Regional Medical Center & Health Centers (CCRMC&HCs) deserves recognition for eliminating visiting-hour restrictions in September 2013 and introducing a “welcoming policy” that recognized that the patient’s family and significant others play a vital role as partners in care. The system was redesigned to be more patient-centered and to create a more welcoming environment for our patients and their families/significant others. Guests of our patients are now welcome to visit any hour of the day or night.
The welcoming concept and policy was embraced on all levels by frontline staff, leadership and our patient partners. Holly Longmuir and Helena Martey are Nurse Program Managers that came in on the night shifts to support their staff and answer questions during the welcoming pilot in their departments. They took the time to ensure the frontline staff felt empowered to welcome and engage the patient and their family /friends. Holly, Helena and their frontline staff were innovative in establishing more ways to be more welcoming to our patients and patients’ families and significant others by addressing comfort needs.
Contra Costa Regional Medical Center and Health Centers involved our patient partners and multidisciplinary team in the development of the welcoming policy. A draft of the policy is on our website. Our patient partners were involved in creating welcoming signage and making suggestions for creating a more welcoming environment in the main lobby of the hospital. An ATM and vending machine with refreshments are now available in the lobby. Plants are being added as well. Security was also involved to manage security and safety for patients, their families,and staff.
Holly and Helena were instrumental in ensuring that frontline staff and patient/family feedback were obtained and collected on their respective units. They also collaborated with other departments, frontline staff, patients and their families to reduce noise levels during evening hours and promote comfort by obtaining chairs suitable for sleepovers for designated private rooms.
As a result of our welcoming practices, we’ve gotten positive feedback from our frontline staff as well as our patients and their families/friends. From September 2013 through January 2014, a total of 2,280 family members have been welcomed by our frontline staff. Two-thirds of the encounters occurred on evening shifts. One-third of the encounters occurred on night shifts. December was the month with the highest number of visits at 630.
According to frontline nurses, the welcoming policy supports them to do what is right for the patient. It is now easier for the patient’s family to have access to the hospital front entrance and parking. Sleepover chairs have been ordered for the comfort of our patients’ guests based on feedback from the patients’ families and the frontline staff. The frontline nurses shared that having a patient’s family present helps to protect the safety of the patient and also deceases the anxiety of the patient.
Patients tell us that having their families in the room with them was “very helpful.” One patient stated “…I am just glad that I don’t have to park my car and walk all over to the [Emergency Department], because the new building took the parking, I’m not staying all night, but thank you for opening the front door.” Another patient stated “… very comforting to open my eyes and see her (a family member) there, thank you.” We also heard from another patient: “Appreciated seeing my brother so late at 2 in the morning.”