‘I feel bad for him’: Wife of Miriam patient troubled by Lifespan’s visitation restrictions

Coronavirus

LINCOLN, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Brenda D’Agostino started her week with some unsettling news.

She can no longer visit her husband, who’s currently receiving treatment in the cardiac unit at Miriam Hospital.

“I fight for him, he fights for me,” she added. “After 27 years, you’ve got to be there for each other, because no one else is going to.”

Top hospital group Lifespan put out a notice Monday that patient visitation has been suspended at all of its hospitals, effective immediately. No visitors will be allowed in the adult units at Lifespan facilities, which include Rhode Island Hospital and The Miriam.

“It’s a large number of people who come to the hospital every day,” Medical Director at Rhode Island Hospital Dr. Mitchell Levy said. “In a situation like this, where the prevalence of the infection is not that well known, it’s, I think, better to be overcautious and limit the flow of those people rather than expose people unnecessarily to the illness.”

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Lifespan said there are some exceptions for certain situations. Patients arriving at the ER will be limited to one accompanying adult, whose duration of stay will be minimized, while Bradley and Hasbro Children’s Hospitals will have modified policies to allow for the accompaniment of one parent. Maternity services at Newport Hospital will allow for one birthing partner.

Care teams will also make exceptions for end-of-life care and for patients in need of a medical guardian/decision-maker, Lifespan said, adding that patients and families should discuss any special requirements with their care team.

“We understand this is a great hardship to both patients and families, but we know that older and sicker people are most vulnerable to this novel coronavirus, and after careful evaluation of the evolving risks of transmission, we felt it was the most prudent thing to do,” Lifespan President and CEO Dr. Timothy Babineau said in a statement.

D’Agostino said she understands Lifespan’s reasoning for restricting visitation, but it doesn’t make it any easier. She said her husband has been through his fair share of medical emergencies, and through it all, she’s been by his side.

She also said she’s worried her husband may be exposed to the virus, which has already killed thousands globally.

“I just don’t want him contracting it, too,” D’Agostino said. “I’m scared for him being in the hospital, with a heart condition, to have the chance to get the coronavirus. I’m scared for that to happen to him. I don’t want it to.”

“It hurts me. I feel bad for him,” she added. “I wouldn’t want to be stuck in the hospital with a heart condition and then worry if you’re going to get a virus on top of it.”

D’Agostino said her husband will hopefully be discharged on Tuesday. Until then, she will be supporting her husband by phone instead of in person.

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