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Visitor restrictions being eased at hospitals

There will soon be more opportunities for family members, primary support persons and caregivers to support patients
101317-QE2-QEII-hospital-emergency room-1-MG
The emergency room at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre (Meghan Groff/HalifaxToday.ca)

NEWS RELEASE
NOVA SCOTIA HEALTH
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Some Nova Scotia Health hospital visitor restrictions will be eased this week to allow more opportunities for family members, primary support persons and caregivers to support patients.

While no general visitation is permitted, Nova Scotia Health is easing restrictions to allow more opportunities for family members, primary support persons and caregivers to support patients in hospital where it is feasible and safe to do so within public health guidelines.

Beginning on Thursday, Sept. 17:

  • All hospital inpatients will be permitted to have two support people/family caregivers visit at the same time. These individuals may change daily. Appointments are not required. Additional family members may be permitted for those approaching end-of-life based on discussion with the care team. 
  • Patients arriving at the hospital for appointments or procedures will be allowed to have one person accompany them. Please note that there may be circumstances where space restrictions may not allow physical distancing with other patients within clinic areas. In this case, staff will communicate this to the patient and their family/support person, and discuss options based on patient needs.

Having a loved one present during hospitalization is important for patient care, experience, safety and outcomes. With the consistently low number of known COVID-19 cases in the province, Nova Scotia Health believes it’s time to reintegrate family caregivers as part of our care teams.

“It is hard for patients to be separated from their loved ones during a hospital stay. This change recognizes the important role of caregivers as essential partners in patient care and will support the health and mental well-being of our patients,” said Madonna MacDonald, Nova Scotia Health Vice President of Health Services.

The following measures will help ensure patient, staff and visitor safety. All support person/family caregivers must:

  • be feeling well at the date and time of the visit
  • be screened upon entry - anyone with symptoms consistent with COVID-19, on self-isolation or being tested for COVID-19 due to recent travel or potential exposure to the virus will not be permitted to enter
  • wear a mask covering their nose and mouth at all times
  • maintain a physical distance of two metres (six feet) from staff and other patients
  • wash their hands when entering and leaving the hospital and when entering and leaving the patient’s room
  • go directly to and from the patient’s room, or visit location, and remain there for the duration of the visit

Procedures will vary by site and inpatient unit based on ability to manage and monitor the public health guidelines that are in place to protect the health and safety of patients, staff and visitors.

As previously outlined by the provincial government, long-term care facilities and veterans units are also implementing changes following direction from the chief medical officer of health. Care teams will communicate directly with residents and their families regarding these changes.

Nova Scotia Health will continue to closely monitor the situation and make changes when needed. 

For more information on current visitor restrictions, please visit: http://www.nshealth.ca/coronavirus-home/nsha-visitor-restrictions

An updated list of support person restrictions at IWK Health will be updated on Thursday and can be viewed at http://www.iwk.nshealth.ca/COVID-19

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