A young couple from an Amish community 1 ½ hrs away from my hospital came in with a one-day-old infant for medical care. The patient was to be admitted to the NICU and the couple arrived by a hired driver. Upon entering the ED, the couple asked if they would both be able to stay with their infant. The screeners at the entrance incorrectly informed them that they could. They were both allowed in with the infant after the father told the driver he could leave. At this time, the entire hospital was under strict visitor restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Only one parent was allowed into the ED and would be allowed in the NICU. Both parents were allowed to stay with the patient in the ED, and once the patient was ready to be transferred to the NICU, they were informed that only one would be allowed to accompany and stay with the patient. The father became extremely upset as he had asked if he would be allowed to remain prior to letting his driver go. He was now stranded 1 ½ hours from home with no ride and no phone and did not have a good way to contact anyone.
I appealed to my Charge nurse, who then called the Nursing Supervisor and the Family Resource Center (which was currently closed due to the pandemic). The Ronald McDonald house was also closed, and visitors were not allowed to remain in the waiting rooms or lobbies within the hospital. The Supervisor would not accommodate and stated that one of the parents had to leave. After several attempts to try to help the family after our facility gave them the wrong information, a social worker was able to get special permission to allow him to stay in the Family Resource Center.
In this case, I felt that the Nursing Supervisor did not demonstrate cultural competence. She did not address the family’s culture or beliefs and their ability to adapt to the situation.
Considering the current pandemic, should hospital policies that are in place to protect patients, workers, and families be adjusted to accommodate unique situations?
How should education for hospital staff be addressed to prevent further situations?