Stony Brook University Hospital visiting rules knocked

For the second consecutive year, Stony Brook University Hospital was found to have restrictive rules on patient visitation online, a new report says.

"Everybody who goes to the hospital should have someone there with them, someone to ask questions, to make sure nobody is making a mistake," said Suzanne Mattei, executive director of New Yorkers for Patient & Family Empowerment, one of three groups that released the report Thursday.

After reviewing the websites of 99 large New York hospitals, the report concluded 17 of them have visitation policies that are inconsistent with or contrary to law.


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The report, also authored by Lambda Legal and the New York Public Interest Research Group, looked only at websites because people who do not live nearby may be dissuaded from visiting by what they read online, Mattei said.

State and federal regulations guarantee hospital patients may decide who can visit -- whether family, a spouse or domestic partner, or even a friend. Stony Brook's website, however, says visitors are restricted to immediate family for patients in the cardiovascular intensive care unit, medical intensive care unit and coronary care unit.

The report's authors sent a letter to Stony Brook administrators in March, but there has been no change. The website could be outdated or an oversight, said Mattei, adding the hospital "ought to be more responsive."

Stony Brook updated its policy in February to comply with state visitation laws, but "neglected to update our website appropriately," Clinton Weaver, a hospital spokesman, said Thursday. The website will reflect the change this morning, he said.

Franklin Hospital in Valley Stream is in the same category as Stony Brook, the report says.

However, a Franklin spokeswoman said the report's authors looked at an outdated 2010 website that does not reflect the hospital's current policies.

The report was a follow-up to last year's report on websites, which found 23 of the 99 hospitals had a long-standing practice of limiting access to immediate family, even though a 2010 state law permits visits by other adults.

More than one-third of the hospitals reviewed in 2012 have since taken steps on their websites to comply with state law, the report says.Since last year, John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson, Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, two hospitals operated by Catholic Health Services, and six hospitals operated by North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System have come into full compliance, the report says.

Mattei said the groups behind the report sent a letter to the commissioner of the state Department of Health on Thursday, asking him to take the lead to guide all New York hospitals into compliance.

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