Patient relations manager recalls “a day full of joy”
June 28 is a day I’ll always remember. That was the day we began welcoming visitors back to our campuses after 15 months. It was a day full of joy for everyone.
Based on the latest COVID-19 data, we had updated our patient visitation policy to allow one adult visitor per patient. We’d also streamlined our screening process. Patients and their visitors arrived with big smiles that first day. They had heard about our updated visitor policy and almost couldn’t believe it. They were so happy and appreciative to have a caregiver with them for support.
Hospitals around the country had restricted visitors at the start of the pandemic to slow the spread of the coronavirus. And with one of the world’s largest populations of immunocompromised patients, MD Anderson had gone above and beyond to protect our vulnerable patients from the spread of COVID-19. With weakened immune systems, cancer patients are at high risk of serious illness from COVID-19. My team manages our entry screening process, and before June 28, that included temperature checks and plexiglass for added protection.
It was heartbreaking to restrict visitors, and while we knew it was for everyone’s safety, we still felt for our patients. Even though our low infection rates throughout the pandemic showed that our policy kept them safe, we knew it was challenging for our patients and their families.
But June 28 felt like returning to the comforts of home after a long trip. You turn the corner of your street, and you know you’re finally home. When we removed plexiglass and allowed patient visitors, we returned to more personable interactions. Patients felt more comfortable when they arrived. They were more at ease. It was so fun seeing the joy on their masked faces.
Our team morale improved dramatically, too. We were relieved to welcome patients and their visitors. They expressed gratitude for how we kept them safe, and that meant the world to us.
It’s so fulfilling to get to know our patients and their families and hear their stories. At MD Anderson, we’re a family, and we welcomed our family back that day.
Debbie Wright is a manager in Patient Relations at MD Anderson.