PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Hospitals and other medical facilities around the country closed their doors to visitors last year as a mysterious pathogen was claiming lives in record numbers. Now, with the arrival of three coronavirus vaccines, and better treatment protocols, Bon Secours Maryview Medical Center in Portsmouth has relaxed its visitation policy.
Spokesperson Jenna Green issued a statement that says, in part, “Only one visitor is permitted with Emergency Department patients and no visitors are allowed in outpatient areas. At this time, we are not allowing visitors for COVID-19 patients except at end-of-life.”
The revised policy, which is subject to change, comes too late for the family of John “Hush Puppy” Williams. His family members pleaded with the hospital to allow his daughter, a registered nurse, to attend to his needs while he was under treatment for COVID-19.
The Williams family shared their story with 10 On Your Side after they said the hospital, under COVID protocols, would not allow the family to enter the hospital to review Williams’ remains shortly after his death.
“Obviously had we had that opportunity with my father we believe he would still be alive,” said daughter Kristie Chappell.
The Williams family shared images and videos that appear to support their claim that Williams was strapped to his bed in a restraint system after he complained about his oxygen tube. Via video conference, he complained to family members that if he remained at the hospital he would die.
Williams died on the evening of January 15 in the absence of loved ones.
His daughter welcomes the policy change for two reasons.
“They[family members] can obviously be with them and have that closure which so many have not had, and secondly there is accountability,” said Chappell.
Since Williams’ death, loved ones say his beloved wife, Amy, of 59 years will never be the same.
“In my entire life of 52 years, I may have seen her cry once or twice, ever, and I have not seen her a day, since my father passed away, that she is not sobbing,” said Chappell.
A spokesperson for the Virginia Hospital Association told 10 On Your Side earlier this year it’s important that hospital visitors read visitation policies, that are subject to change, before attempting to visit a loved one. Those policies and any changes can be found on hospital websites.
The grieving Williams family members also have advice for the loved ones of patients who are hospitalized for COVID-19.
“Be a voice and let your voice be heard. Fight for your loved one as if their life depended on it, because nowadays it does,” said Chappell.