When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit Italy in March 2020, relatives of patients were prevented from entering hospital wards, interrupting a decades-long effort to promote visitor access and foster a family-centred approach to intensive care unit (ICU) care [1,2,3]. Several researches are pointing out the negative impact of restricted visitation policies, in acute care settings, on the mental health and psychological well-being of patients, families, and healthcare workers (HCW) [4,5,6]. As the course of the pandemic progressed, scientific societies have initiated a debate about restrictions’ implications and responsive guidelines to allow hospital visitations. Existing studies and recommendations suggest that, if properly conducted, visits to COVID-19 or other hospital wards, do not endanger the safety of patients, visitors and HCW [1, 3]. Furthermore, Mistraletti et colleagues’ viewpoint highlights that, even if limited in time and conditioned by personal protective equipment (PPE) usage, family visits remain a fundamental necessity for families, patients and the whole ICU community . Motivated by these findings, the Treviso Hospital devised a protocol to reopen the General ICU to families during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The general ICU of the Hospital of Treviso is located in one of the first and most affected Italian regions hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Between May 2020 and June 2021, 360 patients, with acute respiratory failure due to COVID-19 infection, were admitted and treated. Since visitors’ access was suspended, the ICU team, with their strong attention and commitment to the communicative and relational aspects of care, firmly demanded to resume contact with families. With this towering aim, the ICU team’s endeavour has led to a progressive step-by-step project pointing to reopen the ICU to family members, so that a patient- and family-centred high-quality care could be restored.