Two South Florida sisters are petitioning to lift visitation restrictions that were put into place due to COVID-19 at Jackson Memorial Hospital.
Michelle Cardenas and Vivianne Nieto started an online petition that currently has more than 1,700 signatures.
"If Miami is back to normal, why can't we put hospitals back to normal?” said Cardenas.
After nearly three months at Jackson Memorial Hospital with a blood infection and other complications, their father Sandalio Cardenas died on June 7. The Cardenas sisters say with only one visitor allowed and limited hours, it was extremely difficult.
"Miami is completely open, right? So people that work in the hospitals, after they leave, they are out living their lives, right? Then they go back to work and go take care of our loved ones, so what's the difference between them and us?" Nieto said.
Visiting hours for non-COVID patients at Jackson Memorial Hospital right now are 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Other local hospitals, such as Baptist Health, allow visitors from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Kendall Regional Medical Center from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mount Sinai's hours are 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Hours also vary by department.
“People heal people and I just want them to realize that the healing process starts with the family. It's not just science it's not just medicine,” said Nieto.
On the day Cardenas died, Jackson Memorial Hospital staff allowed several family members to be by his side. Vivianne says she is grateful for that, but she needed more time with her father.
"These past three months. If they would’ve allowed us to stay there instead of on his deathbed, it would have been better because we would’ve had more time with him, he would have been conscious and he probably would have healed faster,” said Nieto.
Jackson Health System released a statement saying: "Our hearts go out to all families that have loved ones in the hospital during this pandemic and have been dealing with the challenges of visitation policy limitations. Like all hospitals, Jackson Health System is constantly re-evaluating our visitation protocols to provide the most time for patients to spend with their loved ones while still making safety our highest priority. These decisions are made by nursing and physician leaders, trying to balance the risk of COVID-19 exposure with the clear benefit to patients of having their loved ones nearby. We currently allow daily visitation from 9 to 11 a.m. and from 6 to 9 p.m. We hope to expand this even further as the severity of the pandemic continues to abate in our community. Our hospital leaders also review special requests daily in order to be sensitive to special circumstances."
The Cardenas sisters say although their father died, they will continue to fight for other families to spend more time with their loved ones. The ideal solution, they say, is pre-pandemic visiting rules.