Dear Barb—Hospital Hospitality

Dear Barb:

Happy New Year!  I sure hope this is a better year than last year.  My situation may be a common one considering all that is going on in the hospitals this year.  My father has been in the hospital since before Christmas.  Thankfully, he doesn’t have COVID, but he does have several other illnesses.  Dad has a heart condition, COPD, and he is in the early stages of MS.  Mom and I have done everything possible to keep him out of the hospital because of all the COVID outbreaks there, but ultimately we had no choice.  He can only have one visitor because of COVID–my mom, of course. 

But this has been very hard on her. I wish I could do something to give her a break.  She doesn’t want to leave dad alone for very long, so she spends most of her time at the hospital with him.  I am worried that she’ll end up sick as well, as this is taking a toll on her and she is in her late sixties.  I want to find a way to support my parents and I was wondering if you would have any suggestions that could help.  I tried to research myself, but there is so much conflicting information and I am finding it difficult to focus.  Looking forward to your response.  Thanks Ellen. 

Happy New Year Ellen:

Glad to hear from you, but sad about what you are going through.  I will try to clear up some of your confusion.  I don’t know whether your dad has a cell phone and is able to video chat with you or other family members.  If you mother doesn’t have a phone either, I would suggest you and your mom purchase phones for them both.  Monthly plans can be expensive, but well worth the investment for everyone involved.

Hospital staff are saying that communicating with other family members is critical at this time, when people are isolated and feeling alone.  Also, you need to designate one family member who will be able to share your dad’s situation with everyone.  You would be the most likely person to advocate for your dad, and communicate with his doctors, as long as your parents provide consent for you to be able to obtain this information.  Establish a connection with one professional health care contact who will communicate with others involved in your father’s care and will keep you updated on your dad’s situation.  It is a difficult time and I hope this information is helpful.  Looking forward to a better year ahead.

Email your questions to Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality; your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.