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The premier resource for hospital professionals from Relias Media, the trusted source for healthcare information and continuing education.

Hospital Regulations Are No Match for True Love

Joy Daughtery Dickinson is executive editor of the Hospital Group of publications at AHC Media in Atlanta and long-time editor and writer of Same-Day Surgery. She has won nine national awards from the Specialized Information Publishers Association and the Association of Business Information & Media Companies for her blogging, news writing, and editing. She makes her home in southwest Georgia.

They had been separated only one other time: when he served in the Korean War.

This time, it wasn’t a war that separated them, but hospital regulations. Tom and Arnisteen Clark, 96 and 92 years old, were hospitalized at Piedmont Fayette Hospital in Fayetteville, GA. The hospital had a strict policy that prohibits orthopedic patients from being in the same private room, but who could stand to keep them apart?

Staff members brought Tom to Arnisteen’s room and allowed him to visit with her every day for a few hours. When he first saw her in her hospital bed, his eyes filled with tears. “I just can't be away from her,” he said. “She's the finest woman in the world."

They were able to be together because an orthopedics manager and her staff were willing to put patients first. It’s simple steps such as this one that have helped the country’s highest performing hospitals reach that level, according to a recent study from Johns Hopkins. Specifically, the study found that the highest performing hospitals had personal and focused interactions with their patients, a culture that demands involvement of all levels of caregivers and services, and a devotion to consistency.

“It’s not just about getting the physicians involved, or the nurses,” says lead study author Hanan Aboumatar, MD, MPH, an assistant professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a member of the Johns Hopkins Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality. “Everyone involved at the hospital, all the way up to top leadership, has to place a high priority on the needs of patients and their families.”

The Johns Hopkins survey showed 77% of the high performing hospitals reported that a commitment to the patient and family was a part of their culture and a key reason for their high performance.

“It may seem a simple thing,” Aboumatar says. “But if leaders and staff members don’t prioritize this commitment and link it to the greater mission, it becomes easier to lose sight of it in the hectic pace of hospital care.”

We salute Piedmont Fayette Hospital and other hospitals that put patients first. After all, a couple who have been married for 68 years shouldn’t have to go to battle to be together. (Editor’s note: Follow us on Twitter @HospitalReport.)