WEYMOUTH, MA — Some nurses at South Shore Hospital say the hospital’s revamped visitors policy does not go far enough to help them avoid stress and coronavirus infection as they deal with what one described as the toughest phase of the pandemic.
“These have been some of the roughest few months that we’ve had to deal with,” a pediatric nurse, who requested her name not be used for publication, said. “Between short staffing and coworkers being out with COVID, we’re having to take care of more patients, and we’re burnt out.”
As of Monday, 121 of South Shore Hospital’s 396 beds were occupied by coronavirus patients, including 10 patients in intensive care. According to the state Department of Public Health, 6.9 percent of hospital beds are available in the southeast region of Massachusetts, which incudes Weymouth. While the policy adopted Tuesday bars visitors for most patients, there are exceptions in pediatric, maternity and outpatient surgical departments.
“I understand some people need a support person there, but it’s so fifty-fifty,” the pediatric nurse said. “We need fewer people around to get case numbers down.”
In addition to the visitor policy changes, South Shore Hospital is converting space to treat the influx of patients. Pratt 4N, a 16-bed pediatric unit, is being converted to hold more beds for medical and surgical patients, spokesperson Kristen Perfetuao said, allowing the hospital to admit more patients while others are waiting to be transferred to skilled nursing and other post-acute facilities.
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While the new policy bars visitors to adult inpatient units and limits the pediatric patients to one parent or guardian in most cases, there are exceptions to the new rules, including end-of-life care, discharge teaching, Goals of Care Meetings, attorneys, and designated support persons for patients with a disability or special needs. Other exceptions need to be approved on a case-by-cases basis by the patient’s care team.
The hospital is offering assistance with virtual visitation for patients who help setting up a virtual visit. People who need help scheduling a virtual visit with a patient