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How to pick a support person when you are in the hospital

If you are in the hospital for any event, it is stressful. Support from family and friends can make all the difference, but what do you when the hospital has to put limitations on your visitors because of an emergency? Many times hospitals will ask you to designate someone as your primary support person. Some facilities call this a patient care partner. 

Who is a support person?

A support person is someone you designate to visit you in the hospital and plays an important role in your medical care. A support person is more than a visitor, this is someone who will be with you through your hospital stay.

NMC Health keeps track of your support persons and if situations arise, limit your visitors to only those listed as your support persons.

Planned hospital visits vs emergencies

It is best you determine your support persons before a scheduled visit to the hospital. By planning ahead, you can talk with your family and friends, understand their schedules and their comfort level being listed as a support person.

In emergency situations, where you end up in the hospital expectantly, planning ahead isn’t as easy. Have the conversation about support persons now, before you have an emergency. While it might be uncomfortable and cause concern for your family or friends, it is a good idea to talk with your candidates for support persons and let them know that you are planning for a ‘what if’ situation. ‘What if I’m in a car wreck or hurt at work? Will you be a support person for me in the hospital?’ Remember who said yes so you have a plan for emergencies.

How to pick a support person?

IV in hand - holding hands

If restrictions are in place that limit the number of visitors to your hospital room, you will likely have to pick support persons. During extraordinary times, these will be your only visitors. You, your family and close friends will have to make a choice: who will be your support persons?

It is a hard decision because this limits who can and cannot be in the hospital room with you. It is important in these situations to make sure you have the right people in the room and helping with your medical care.

When picking which family member or close friend is designated as a support person, you need to think about the following:

1. Do you already have a primary in-home caregiver? If you have someone in your life that helps you with your daily living, this is a logical choice for a support person. These people will have knowledge of your diet, your routine and your medications. They will also have general knowledge of your personal preferences and can provide good insight to your medical team.


2. Do you have a spouse or life partner? This is someone who is directly impacted by your hospital stay. Having them help with decisions in your medical care can make your hospitalization less stressful.


3. Do you have a durable power of attorney? A durable power of attorney (DPOA) is someone authorized to make decisions for you in the event you are unable to care for yourself. You will want to make sure that if you have a DPOA, they are listed as a support person. This allows them to be in the hospital room, hear from your medical care team, and since you already trust them to make decisions for you, allows them to make the best decision they see fit.


4. Who of your candidates for support persons has the most time to be with you in the hospital? Try to prioritize your support persons to those can be with you the most during your hospitalization. Listing a relative or close friend that isn’t able to be with you – due to work, their own medical needs, or other life situations – isn’t someone you should prioritize as a support person.


5. Do you have children, siblings and close friends? If you can have multiple support persons, you may want one of them to be a family member or close friend. So how do you pick one of your children over another? Or your close friends? You have to weigh a couple options:

    • Pick a family member or friend that is a great communicator and good under stress. Since this person will be relaying information to others not allowed in your room, it is important that they be able to understand what the doctors are saying, ask appropriate questions and handle tough situations.
    • Did one of your children or relatives travel long distances to see you? This person values you enough to spend a significant amount of time and money to visit you. It is okay to select this person as your support person. Your case manager can help provide additional guidance.

It is important to remember that designating a limited number of support persons is a tough decision and NMC Health staff are here to help you make these decisions. Our nurses, doctors and support staff care about you and your recovery. We know firsthand that family and friends help make your hospitalizing easier, but when situations arise where visitation or support persons have to be reduced (or in extreme cases, eliminated), we have to focus on your recovery and the safety of others in our hospital.

How to stay connected with your family and friends when they cannot be in your hospital room?

NMC Health has several ways to help you stay in touch with your family when access to your room is restricted.

Virtual Visits
NMC Health Provided Tablets

We offer electronic devices to all hospital patients who would like to visit with their family. NMC Health invested in several tablets. If you would like to video chat with your family or friends, all you need to do is talk with your nurse. We can help you through any questions you have.


NMC Health’s tablets use a video app called JusTalk. If your family or friends have their own electronics to video chat, they will need to download the JusTalk app.

If you have a family member who doesn’t have a way to video chat with you, NMC Health can help. While this family member might not be able to come into your hospital room, they can wait in one of our outdoor public spaces and our staff can bring them one of our tablets to use. The tablet cannot leave the hospital grounds and must be returned to the hospital when you complete your video call.

Your Own Phone, Laptop or Tablet

You are able to use your own device to video chat with people while you are in the hospital. We have free Wifi for you to use during your stay. 

WiFi Network Name: nmc-public

You will have to read and accept our terms of use before you are allowed to connect to our WiFi.

Window Watching

NMC Health has placed room numbers in all of the hospital’s exterior facing windows. All you have to do is let your family and friends know what room you are in. Family and friends are encouraged to visit you through your room’s window, leave notes on the glass (with non-permanent decoration; no sharpies, glue, etc.), wave and offer encouragement. We allow families to bring chairs, coolers and food as they need. 

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