With the hospital-based transmission of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in Ontario, acute care hospitals severely restricted visitor access. Now that the SARS outbreak is under control, hospitals struggle with the balance between adhering to patient- and family-centred care models, and addressing the future threat of infectious diseases. To evaluate the effect of visitor restrictions and to guide future visitation policies, the Ottawa Hospital conducted a preliminary survey of patients, next of kin, staff, physicians and volunteers. Ninety percent of staff surveyed supported some form of visitor restrictions, while 71% indicated that they felt comfortable asking visitors to leave if they had exceeded current restrictions. The majority of patients (80%) and next of kin (76%) were at least moderately satisfied with current restricted limiting hours. A disproportionate number of positive comments on current visiting restrictions were received from both patients and staff. In the absence of evidence on which to base future visitor policy development, objective input from healthcare workers, patients and families is invaluable.
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