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Local petition calls for hospitals, nursing homes to allow family visitors

Published: Sep. 16, 2020 at 10:45 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - A local petition calling for hospitals and nursing homes to allow family members to visit patients on Wednesday was presented to Sedgwick County commissioners. With widespread circulation, that petition is going viral on social media.

Next Wednesday (Sept. 23), Sedgwick County Commissioner Jim Howell is asking the county to come together and ask long-term care facilities and hospitals to reconsider visitation policies that don’t allow family members inside for visits.

Since the start of the pandemic, nursing homes and hospitals haven’t allowed visitors in many situations. As a result, some patients died alone. With the petition, some Kansas families are asking for change. Ann Hathaway started the online petition and in a matter of days, collected thousands of signatures.

The call for change is personal and emotional for Hathaway and many others across the U.S. After six months apart, families are asking for a change. Hathaway shared the story of her 97-year-old father and an emergency-room visit where she was told “flatly and coldly” that she could not see her dad and be there to help him.

“These same harmful policies are in place at my parents' assisted living facility, where they have been in lockdown since March 4. They cannot come out, and no one can come in. They have been isolated from their family members, their pastor and church friends, even their fellow residents,” Hathaway wrote in the petition. "Not a single hug or kiss or touch of a hand, no affection of any kind. For over five months. This begs the question (that) medical, health, and geriatric professionals must ask, “Is it better to die from Covid-19, or from loneliness, despair, and depression?”

Recently, Ascension Via Christi did modify its policy to allow one family member at a time to visit patients in its hospitals. Hospitals and nursing homes have adopted strict policies in the effort to keep patients and staff members safe from COVID-19. In several cases, they have added exceptions.

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