Susquehanna Health Offers Open Visiting Hours to Support Family Centered Care

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While visiting hours at hospitals were originally established to safeguard the health and healing of their patients, health systems throughout the U.S. are recognizing the benefits of family support for patients and instituting less restrictive or even open visiting hour policies. Dedicated to carefully placing patients and families first, Susquehanna Health (SH) encourages open visiting hours when caregiver participation is paramount to a patient’s successful recovery and comfort.

Susquehanna Health
We understand the important role that families and caregivers play in their loved one’s life, so we encourage them to offer support at their loved ones bedside.

While visiting hours at hospitals were originally established to safeguard the health and healing of their patients, health systems throughout the U.S. are recognizing the benefits of family support for patients and instituting less restrictive or even open visiting hour policies. Dedicated to carefully placing patients and families first, Susquehanna Health (SH) encourages open visiting hours when caregiver participation is paramount to a patient’s successful recovery and comfort.

Joseph Wood, Director of Therapy Services, said SH’s Joint Center begins working with the patient and their designated caregiver in the pre-surgical planning and education process. “We strongly encourage our patients to have someone present to actively participate in the rehabilitation process,” he said. As a result, there are no restrictive visiting hours for the patient’s coach and the unit is even designed with conveniences such as pull-out couches for overnight stays. Accommodations for extended family are made available through family zones and the Williamsport Regional Medical Center’s (WRMC) Hospitality Inn.

“Coaches are not asked to stay the night, but our unit and program are designed to support that if necessary,” Wood explained. Educating the caregiver alongside the patient throughout the entire process is multifaceted, according to Wood. “It supports the patient and increases their confidence level, it offers a second set of eyes and ears for periods when the patient may be less able to recall the doctor’s or nurse’s instructions and it instills confidence in the caregiver because they understand how to best assist the patient post-op,” he said. Caregiver training also improves patient safety by reducing the risk of patient falls and other complications, while decreasing occurrences of hospital readmission.

“Because caregivers observe and participate in most of the aspects of nursing and therapy care, the transition to providing assistance when the patient returns home should be seamless,” Wood explained. The uniqueness of The Joint Center program and the elective nature of joint surgeries enables the patient to plan ahead and lends itself to a more flexible or open visitation schedule, according to Wood.

SH’s maternity care unit, The Birthplace, also extends open visiting hours to encourage family bonding. Fathers or delivery support persons are encouraged to assist new moms and may choose to spend the night on the sleeper sofa provided in private postpartum rooms, which also include flatscreen TVs, wireless Internet, a small refrigerator and a bathroom with shower. Extended family may visit outside normal visiting hours at the patient’s request.

“At Susquehanna Health, it is a priority to partner with our patients and their families to provide patient-centered care,” said Director of Patient Experience Joanie Delovich. “We understand the important role that families and caregivers play in their loved one’s life, so we encourage them to offer support at their loved ones bedside.”

Susquehanna Health observes open visiting hours, however, to allow for a designated rest period that supports healing and a nighttime sleep pattern, visits are recommended between the hours of 8 am and 9 pm.

About Susquehanna Health
Susquehanna Health is a four-hospital integrated health system including Divine Providence Hospital, Muncy Valley Hospital, Soldiers + Sailors Memorial Hospital and Williamsport Regional Medical Center located in northcentral Pennsylvania. Serving patients from an 11-county region, Susquehanna Health is a healthcare leader and has been recognized at the national and state levels for quality of care. Susquehanna Health offers a wide array of services that include cancer care, heart and vascular care/heart surgery, neurosciences including neurosurgery, orthopedics, urology, OB/GYN, gastrointestinal services, behavioral health, physical rehabilitation, home care, long term care, assisted living and paramedic/ambulance services.

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Tyler Wagner
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