Most private hospitals in Mumbai have a pass system that keeps the number of visitors down to a minimum.
PD Hinduja Hospital at Mahim, for instance, has been issuing passes for visitors since it was set up in 1986. One 24-hour pass is issued at the time of the patient’s admission for a fee of Rs 200.
If the family wants an additional pass, they have to approach the head nurse who sends a recommendation to the consultant concerned. Only after his/her approval, does the hospital issue another pass, which is valid from 7 am to 7 pm for three days, for a fee of Rs 100.
“We have made the process difficult, so it’s a deterrent,” said Vijay Gupta, deputy director of marketing at Hinduja. Private hospitals also became more stringent after the 26/11 terror attack highlighted that hospitals are soft targets.
Hinduja completely abolished its 4 pm to 7 pm visiting hours. During the three-hour period, there was no cap on the number of visitors per patient. But now, only those with passes are allowed.
Dr LH Hiranandani Hospital observes visiting hours but allows only one person at a time in the patient’s room or ward with a pass. “Other visitors can wait in the lobby and go up when the person with the pass returns,” said CEO Dr Sujit Chatterjee.
Most new hospitals have lounges with recliners and televisions apart from cafeterias to keep patients’ relatives and visitors occupied. At Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, Andheri, a sign in the lobby points to a ‘Fine Dining Restaurant’, another to a cafeteria, a gift shop and a third to a beauty salon. These facilities are offered to patients as well as visitors.
In Delhi’s private hospitals, the patient-visitor ratio is maintained. “Our systems are in place. We have a strict one-visitor-per-patient and we don’t make any exceptions other than during visiting hours,” said Dr Anupam Sibal, group medical director, Apollo Hospitals.
Moolchand Medcity has also been successful in restricting visitors. “We usually allow one attendant per patient in wards, but none in critical care areas,” said Rajeev Tyagi, senior manager, operations.
Most large hospitals like Max, Fortis and Apollo do not even allow food and flowers inside wards. They have visitor lounges, bookshops and food outlets where family members can relax, without inconveniencing patients.
Inputs from Jaya Shroff in New Delhi