Survey: Many LI hospital visiting policies inflexible, unclear

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Patient-visiting policies at many Long Island hospitals are inflexible or not clear, according to a survey released Wednesday.

New Yorkers for Patient & Family Empowerment, a joint project of the nonprofits New York Public Interest Research Group and the Center for Justice & Democracy, reviewed visiting policies at 99 hospitals with 200 or more beds statewide.

Hospitals were scored, with a rating of 10 being the best, based on how clear and complete visiting information was on their website and on how flexible their visiting policy appeared to be. The survey also looked at whether hospitals complied with new federal regulations that allow patients to determine who visits them if visits must be limited.

Of the 19 Island hospitals surveyed, 15 scored 4 or less on flexibility of visiting hours; 10 got 4 or less on their website.

Three of the four lowest scorers statewide were on Long Island: St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center in Smithtown, St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson and Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola scored 0 because they offered less than eight hours a day of visiting time and didn't make it clear if visiting hours were flexible, according to the report's author, Suzanne Mattei.

But Mattei said that "when you have a policy that nobody follows, it's not a policy."

"You don't want to have a policy that can be influenced by an individual exercise of discretion," she said.

Ilene Corina, executive director of the patient advocacy group PULSE of New York, agreed. "It's been my personal experience as an advocate that rules get changed very often according to the mood of the staff at the moment," she said.

Glen Cove Hospital was one of four hospitals statewide that scored a 10. Elaine Smith, vice president for nursing education for the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, which includes Glen Cove, said the hospital was the pilot site for a revamping of patient visiting policies implemented at the system's 15 hospitals.

For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D.

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