By Deb Maddalena, RN and Audrey Hoffman, RN
Recently we had an elderly couple arrive in the Emergency Department at Methodist Women’s Hospital. While we took the wife back to an exam room, the husband returned to his car because of the COVID-19 visitor restrictions.
The situation was stressful. The husband was pacing in the parking lot and appeared distraught. They have been married for more than 50 years. While getting an update on his wife’s condition, he became tearful and explained he had never been apart from her while she needed medical care. He worried that something bad was going to happen to her. We reassured him that she was going to be okay and he asked that we not let his wife know about the tears.
We needed to do something to help this couple and came up with a plan. We moved the wife to the only room in the department that has a full view to the outside. We repositioned her bed so that she could be next to the window. Fortunately, it was a beautiful day outside and we provided a chair for her husband on the other side of the window. As we opened the drapes, they both became emotional and waved at each other through the glass. He sat there in that chair with his hand on the glass for his wife to see for her entire stay.
We made sure they had their phones if they needed to communicate. He repeatedly gave us a thumbs-up through the window. When they left together, he gave her a big hug before helping her into the car.
WHAT KEEPS US GOING
This is a difficult time for everyone. What keeps us moving forward is the thought that someone needs to take care of the ill patients, which oftentimes includes addressing anxiety and fears that go along with this whole unknown process. It is our hope that when or if the time comes that we may not be able to be by the side of our child, grandchild, husband or loved one, someone will treat our family member or loved one with the same kindness and respect that we have given your loved ones.