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Celebrating a Year of Open Visiting Hours

Anne Arundel Medical Center recently marked its first anniversary of open visiting hours. Since June 1, 2011, families have been invited to visit patients 24 hours a day, seven days a week—part of the organization’s focus on patient and family centered care.

A pineapple-themed celebration to mark the occasion was held on June 1 at the hospital. (Pineapples have been a symbol of welcome since the 1800s.) Pineapple upside-down cake and pineapple badge pins were passed out to those who joined the festivities.

“Patients are comforted by the extension of visiting hours and are grateful to have loved ones right beside them when they are needed most,” says Anita Smith, RN, manager, wound care at AAMC. “It’s a relief for patients not to worry about time restrictions and the busy schedules of loved ones who want to visit. They can come any time, around the clock.”

The family designation is made by the patient based on a biological, legal or emotional relationship. Research shows patients feel better when their loved ones can stay with them in the hospital throughout their stay. “Being surrounded by loved ones helps improve a patient’s overall well-being,” says Christa Grim, a former AAMC patient who now serves as a patient and family advisor. “Knowing you can be with your loved one at any time, day or night, is such a comfort to both the patient and the family.”

AAMC has embraced this growing trend toward patient and family centered care, which focuses on and includes the considerations of what patients and families have to say about the hospital experience. This includes everything from the care they receive to food choices and direction signs.

The open visiting hours policy, bedside shift report and providing patients access to their medical records are all part of AAMC’s continuous goal to provide patient and family centered care.

On June 4, Grim, along with Chief Operating Officer and Chief Nursing Officer Sherry Perkins, RN, PhD, and Rita Linnenkamp, RN, shared how support for the revised policy from hospital leaders and employees allowed for a quick, smooth implementation of the policy at the Institute for Patient- and Family-Centered Care’s 5th International Conference on Patient- and Family-Centered Care.

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