Family Presence for Patients and Separated Relatives During COVID-19: Physical, Virtual, and Surrogate. Voo, T. C., Senguttuvan, M., & Tam, C. C. Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, August, 2020.
doi  abstract   bibtex   
During an outbreak or pandemic involving a novel disease such as COVID-19, infected persons may need to undergo strict medical isolation and be separated from their families for public health reasons. Such a practice raises various ethical questions, the characteristics of which are heightened by uncertainties such as mode of transmission and increasingly scarce healthcare resources. For example, under what circumstances should non-infected parents be allowed to stay with their infected children in an isolation facility? This paper will examine ethical issues with three modes of "family presence" or "being there or with" a separated family member during the current COVID-19 pandemic: physical, virtual, and surrogate. Physical visits, stays, or care by family members in isolation facilities are usually prohibited, discouraged, or limited to exceptional circumstances. Virtual presence for isolated patients is often recommended and used to enable communication. When visits are disallowed, frontline workers sometimes act as surrogate family for patients, such as performing bedside vigils for dying patients. Drawing on lessons from past outbreaks such as the 2002-2003 SARS epidemic and the recent Ebola epidemic in West Africa, we consider the ethical management of these modes of family presence and argue for the promotion of physical presence under some conditions.
@article{voo_family_2020,
	title = {Family {Presence} for {Patients} and {Separated} {Relatives} {During} {COVID}-19: {Physical}, {Virtual}, and {Surrogate}},
	issn = {1176-7529},
	shorttitle = {Family {Presence} for {Patients} and {Separated} {Relatives} {During} {COVID}-19},
	doi = {10.1007/s11673-020-10009-8},
	abstract = {During an outbreak or pandemic involving a novel disease such as COVID-19, infected persons may need to undergo strict medical isolation and be separated from their families for public health reasons. Such a practice raises various ethical questions, the characteristics of which are heightened by uncertainties such as mode of transmission and increasingly scarce healthcare resources. For example, under what circumstances should non-infected parents be allowed to stay with their infected children in an isolation facility? This paper will examine ethical issues with three modes of "family presence" or "being there or with" a separated family member during the current COVID-19 pandemic: physical, virtual, and surrogate. Physical visits, stays, or care by family members in isolation facilities are usually prohibited, discouraged, or limited to exceptional circumstances. Virtual presence for isolated patients is often recommended and used to enable communication. When visits are disallowed, frontline workers sometimes act as surrogate family for patients, such as performing bedside vigils for dying patients. Drawing on lessons from past outbreaks such as the 2002-2003 SARS epidemic and the recent Ebola epidemic in West Africa, we consider the ethical management of these modes of family presence and argue for the promotion of physical presence under some conditions.},
	language = {eng},
	journal = {Journal of Bioethical Inquiry},
	author = {Voo, Teck Chuan and Senguttuvan, Mathavi and Tam, Clarence C.},
	month = aug,
	year = {2020},
	pmid = {32840835},
	pmcid = {PMC7445690},
	keywords = {COVID-19, Communication, Epidemics, Family presence, Family separation, Medical isolation, Outbreaks}
}

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