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Hospital Etiquette

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When someone is sick, we want them to know that we care and that we are available to help out in any way we can. But there are reasons that hospitals have rules for visitors.

I recently had a very close family member who was in ICU at a local hospital. The ICU is for critically ill patients who need round-the-clock care. ICU has no privacy; there are anywhere from five to ten patients with only curtains dividing their space. ICU is a very noisy place—there are patients crying and in pain before or after surgery, there are a lot of beeping noises from monitors, there are a lot of doctors and nurses moving around constantly caring for the patients. Basically, ICU is not really very restful.

However, ICU areas clearly post signs on all doors that visitors are not allowed. While my relative was in ICU, the patients on both sides of us had constant visitors. They were talking loud, had their cell phones on and even brought in children were playing and crying. When my relative was thankfully released to a regular room, he was exhausted and honestly, I was exhausted. But there were children running up and down the halls and family members of other patients standing in the hallway having very loud conversations. It was impossible for him to get any sleep and for me to get any rest. I honestly could not believe that so many people had so little consideration for the sick people in the hospital.

When someone is in the hospital, they are ill. It is a marvelous thing to let them know that you care, but there needs to be consideration for the patient you are visiting and the patients around them.

Do not bring young children to the hospital. If you really must, make it a very short visit and do not allow the children to run around and make a lot of noise.

Keep your cell phones turned off or on silent, loud ringing noises disturb patients who need the sleep and rest to recover.

Remember that you are there to pay your respect and give your support to the patient and their family. It is not a social event. Take food, coffee and loud conversations to the visitor areas and socialize there, not in the patient’s room or in the hallway outside the patient’s room.

Show people you care, make visits, but make them quietly and make them short. Sick people are happy to know that you care, but they really need rest to recover.

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