COVID-19: What does it mean for people in ICU and for families?

Posted by Rosemary, Volunteer Mentor @rosemarya, Mar 15 5:01pm

Becoming ill with COVID-19 is a uniquely isolating and scary time for all of us, especially you are in the hospital or ICU. Everywhere people are being asked to practice social distancing, many ICUs and hospitals are restricting or not allowing visitors. Luckily this community is virtually open any time all the time to connect with others. If you or a loved one are in ICU right now because of COVID-19 or for any other reason, our ears and hearts are open to let you know you are not alone.

Are you in the hospital right now and want to chat with others? Is your family member in the hospital and you’re not able to visit?

My mom is not in ICU but she was recently in critical care at a hospital and has been moved to a "long-term acute care" facility. She is 80 years old and has been treated for lung cancer. About a month ago she had to have part of her intestines removed due to ischemia. She was in a nursing facility but then came down with an infection and was again hospitalized in a "regular" hospital before she was transferred to the "acute care" facility.

I don't know what I should be doing about visiting. I don't want the hospital staff to get the idea that they can neglect my mother, but if I go there to visit I could be bringing viruses with me or carrying pathogens out when I leave. My wife and I are practically the only relatives who are able to visit on a regular basis because we are both retired, but we have both had recent serious health problems ourselves and I don't think we can afford to be cavalier about the risk of contracting COVID-19.

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Thank you for the message @ltecato . And thank you for being so thoughtful during this time regarding your health and the health of others. If you have not already done so, I would start by suggesting you contact the health care facility that your Mother is currently in. Many organizations right now are working hard on creating policies and procedures to ensure the safety of everyone in the facility as well as those who are visiting. I am glad you found this site where you can connect with others who may have shared experiences.

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@ltecato

My mom is not in ICU but she was recently in critical care at a hospital and has been moved to a "long-term acute care" facility. She is 80 years old and has been treated for lung cancer. About a month ago she had to have part of her intestines removed due to ischemia. She was in a nursing facility but then came down with an infection and was again hospitalized in a "regular" hospital before she was transferred to the "acute care" facility.

I don't know what I should be doing about visiting. I don't want the hospital staff to get the idea that they can neglect my mother, but if I go there to visit I could be bringing viruses with me or carrying pathogens out when I leave. My wife and I are practically the only relatives who are able to visit on a regular basis because we are both retired, but we have both had recent serious health problems ourselves and I don't think we can afford to be cavalier about the risk of contracting COVID-19.

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@ltecato, I hope that you and your wife, and your mom are all weathering this current virus superstorm. My husband and I are taking the current health precautions and staying in, too. I want to drop in and to share a discussion you might find helpful, and I bet that you will have some ideas to share with others, too, It is part of the COVID-19 Discussion Group and titled – Supporting those in hospital/care facilities with visitor restrictions
Here is the link that will take you directly to it.
https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/supporting-those-in-hospitalcare-facilities-with-visitor-restrictions/

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For what it's worth, a couple days ago my sister got worried because Mom called her and reported having a lot of diarrhea and vomiting. My wife went to the hospital to check but was not allowed to go past the lobby. There was a sign on the door that said, "Stop! No visitors!" My wife was able to speak to a nurse and make sure that a doctor was monitoring the situation. Last we heard, Mom was doing better.

If I may make a very mundane suggestion, it would be that hospitals should try to make sure that patients can charge their cellphones and any devices that can connect with whatever WiFi is available. In my recent experience I have noticed that some hospitals don't seem to care if patients can do this, and it can make a patient feel quite isolated and helpless if they cannot communicate with family or other acquaintances. I know most facilities have landline phones in their rooms, but in this day and age, who has memorized more than one or two important phone numbers?

I was hospitalized last April and not only did my cellphone battery go dead but the battery in my hearing aid died and I did not have a replacement. The hospital had no devices to charge the phone, and it refused to supply me with a new hearing aid battery or allow me to buy a new pack from the pharmacy next door. This put me in a situation where I was not only deaf but I could not communicate with my family to ask one of them to bring me a hearing aid battery and phone charger. Luckily, when I was in the emergency room waiting to be admitted I asked a nurse for a pen and paper so I could write down family phone numbers before my phone battery was exhausted. A nurse called my mother — the same one who is now hospitalized — and got her to bring me a charger and pack of batteries. My mom can barely walk 30 feet on a good day, and the hospital more or less shamed her into getting a Lyft and bringing me these essential items in person.

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@ltecato

For what it's worth, a couple days ago my sister got worried because Mom called her and reported having a lot of diarrhea and vomiting. My wife went to the hospital to check but was not allowed to go past the lobby. There was a sign on the door that said, "Stop! No visitors!" My wife was able to speak to a nurse and make sure that a doctor was monitoring the situation. Last we heard, Mom was doing better.

If I may make a very mundane suggestion, it would be that hospitals should try to make sure that patients can charge their cellphones and any devices that can connect with whatever WiFi is available. In my recent experience I have noticed that some hospitals don't seem to care if patients can do this, and it can make a patient feel quite isolated and helpless if they cannot communicate with family or other acquaintances. I know most facilities have landline phones in their rooms, but in this day and age, who has memorized more than one or two important phone numbers?

I was hospitalized last April and not only did my cellphone battery go dead but the battery in my hearing aid died and I did not have a replacement. The hospital had no devices to charge the phone, and it refused to supply me with a new hearing aid battery or allow me to buy a new pack from the pharmacy next door. This put me in a situation where I was not only deaf but I could not communicate with my family to ask one of them to bring me a hearing aid battery and phone charger. Luckily, when I was in the emergency room waiting to be admitted I asked a nurse for a pen and paper so I could write down family phone numbers before my phone battery was exhausted. A nurse called my mother — the same one who is now hospitalized — and got her to bring me a charger and pack of batteries. My mom can barely walk 30 feet on a good day, and the hospital more or less shamed her into getting a Lyft and bringing me these essential items in person.

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I'm so sorry to hear of the lack of compassion and help from the hospital staff, @ltecato. It is hard to believe that this could happen in a health care facility. But I suppose not all facilities are in tune with patient care and comfort. Have you considered contacting the hospital's department of Patient Experience (the name might be a bit different at your hospital) and letting them know of these concerns?

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@ltecato

For what it's worth, a couple days ago my sister got worried because Mom called her and reported having a lot of diarrhea and vomiting. My wife went to the hospital to check but was not allowed to go past the lobby. There was a sign on the door that said, "Stop! No visitors!" My wife was able to speak to a nurse and make sure that a doctor was monitoring the situation. Last we heard, Mom was doing better.

If I may make a very mundane suggestion, it would be that hospitals should try to make sure that patients can charge their cellphones and any devices that can connect with whatever WiFi is available. In my recent experience I have noticed that some hospitals don't seem to care if patients can do this, and it can make a patient feel quite isolated and helpless if they cannot communicate with family or other acquaintances. I know most facilities have landline phones in their rooms, but in this day and age, who has memorized more than one or two important phone numbers?

I was hospitalized last April and not only did my cellphone battery go dead but the battery in my hearing aid died and I did not have a replacement. The hospital had no devices to charge the phone, and it refused to supply me with a new hearing aid battery or allow me to buy a new pack from the pharmacy next door. This put me in a situation where I was not only deaf but I could not communicate with my family to ask one of them to bring me a hearing aid battery and phone charger. Luckily, when I was in the emergency room waiting to be admitted I asked a nurse for a pen and paper so I could write down family phone numbers before my phone battery was exhausted. A nurse called my mother — the same one who is now hospitalized — and got her to bring me a charger and pack of batteries. My mom can barely walk 30 feet on a good day, and the hospital more or less shamed her into getting a Lyft and bringing me these essential items in person.

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@itecato, such as good reminder to help reduce isolation. Many (most?) hospitals now have free WiFi connection thank goodness. That was not always the case. Connection is so important and in today’s world we have more tools that ever thanks to technology. But we are at the mercy of electricity and batteries. Your advice about chargers and hearing aid batteries was so appreciated that @sueinmn shared your advice in another discussion here:

– Supporting those in hospital/care facilities with visitor restrictions https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/supporting-those-in-hospitalcare-facilities-with-visitor-restrictions/

@danab often gives the advice to invest in an extra long charge cord since outlets in hospital and care rooms are never conveniently located.

How is your mom doing?

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hello. my husband is in icu and we have been actively requesting a transfer before the restrictions

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please forgive me for barging in without a proper greeting, Im just overwhelmed with the lack of assistance that ive received during this critical time

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@mutwo

please forgive me for barging in without a proper greeting, Im just overwhelmed with the lack of assistance that ive received during this critical time

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@mutwo, Having a loved on in ICU is a valid reason to barge in. With all of the restrictions and activity happening because of the spread of COVID-19, hospital staff is overloaded right now. Have you had a conversation with the doctor? It could be that your husband's condition requires that his condition be stabilized before transfer is an option. Another reality is that all healthcare facilities are implementing restrictions, so transfer might not be a possibility.
If I were in your place right now, I would talk – to doctor, to nurse, or to the patient ombudsman/patient repersentative.

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hello Ma'am, thank you kindly for your response. I have been trying to communicate with the nurses, physicians, advocates, administrators, etc, but I have been unsuccessful. The majority demonstrate a lack of care, integrity, and compassion. I have witnessed my husband being abused making him and myself afraid for me to leave his side. my husband is on a ventilator but was writing well to communicate. he requested a transfer as well as myself. I was told because its a level one trauma and they can provide his care there, even though we r terrified for his life and seriously concerned with care they are providing, they will not request a transfer unless I provide them with a name of an accepting physician. I was then told that I would have to give them a credit card before they would accept him (his provider informed me that was incorrect) he is a navy veteran and ny transit authority retiree, he doesn't deserve the abuse and torture that he is being subjected to. I haven't slept in weeks and cannot rest until he is somewhere safe and ethical. my husband told me to call the police. I did but they said they couldn't help us either. he is being held against his will and paying them to do so

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@mutwo

hello Ma'am, thank you kindly for your response. I have been trying to communicate with the nurses, physicians, advocates, administrators, etc, but I have been unsuccessful. The majority demonstrate a lack of care, integrity, and compassion. I have witnessed my husband being abused making him and myself afraid for me to leave his side. my husband is on a ventilator but was writing well to communicate. he requested a transfer as well as myself. I was told because its a level one trauma and they can provide his care there, even though we r terrified for his life and seriously concerned with care they are providing, they will not request a transfer unless I provide them with a name of an accepting physician. I was then told that I would have to give them a credit card before they would accept him (his provider informed me that was incorrect) he is a navy veteran and ny transit authority retiree, he doesn't deserve the abuse and torture that he is being subjected to. I haven't slept in weeks and cannot rest until he is somewhere safe and ethical. my husband told me to call the police. I did but they said they couldn't help us either. he is being held against his will and paying them to do so

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Friday I was asked to leave the hospital and he is now alone. I fear for the worse. he favore the mayo clinic and was scheduled to undergo stem cell therapy in the spring. if he was at the mayo clinic I would feel comfortable with him being alone. ive been calling for a week trying to contact an accepting physician at the mayo clinic to help him recover and relieved of this nightmare

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I met a veteran yesterday that said he had a very similar experience at the same hospital that my husband is at. he said no matter what, don't leave him alone. he gave me the number to a veterans hospital near him and I went there last night but they don't accept traumas. my husband was stable, alert, and oriented. everytime they do a procedure that is always unsuccessful, he goes down. im trying to save him before its too late

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@mutwo

Friday I was asked to leave the hospital and he is now alone. I fear for the worse. he favore the mayo clinic and was scheduled to undergo stem cell therapy in the spring. if he was at the mayo clinic I would feel comfortable with him being alone. ive been calling for a week trying to contact an accepting physician at the mayo clinic to help him recover and relieved of this nightmare

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@mutwo Im sorry to hear of you and your husband predicament . As a former nurse I remember we had to close the nursing home to visitors as the flue was rampant in our area . Sometime this has to happen to protect the patients. I realize it is hard on the spouse but is necessary to protect the patient. Im sorry you are so upset but talk to the Administrator of the hospital and they can explain it to you better maybe.

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im afraid for his life, I witnessed things and experienced things that I should have never in a healthcare facility. if he was somewhere safe I wouldn't mind not being with him…the administrators are unethical where he is

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