Eastern Health Expands Visitor Restrictions

December 30, 2021 – St. John’s, NL: Eastern Health advises the public that temporary expanded visitor restrictions are now in place at facilities and sites across the region, as per updated provincial guidelines. Effective immediately, all in-person visits to inpatients in a hospital setting and residents of long-term care homes, personal care homes, community care homes and assisted living facilities are suspended until further notice and the general public are asked not to visit any patients or residents during this time.

In certain exceptional circumstances, inpatients and residents may be permitted one designated support person/caregiver for the duration of their stay while these restrictions are in place, consistent with Eastern Health’s Family Presence and General Visitation policy. A support person may be a relative, legal guardian, friend, or formal/informal caregiver who provides direct care to the client (e.g. feeding support, mobility, personal hygiene, cognitive stimulation, communication, and assistance in decision-making). If a patient/resident feels a support person/caregiver is required, they should discuss their request with their care-team.

The following exceptions apply:
Pediatric in-patients are permitted to have both parents/guardians as support persons, who may be present at the same time.
Labour and delivery patients may have one support person attend labour and delivery. The support person can continue to support the patient for the duration of the time in hospital and there are no restrictions on the number of visits per day.
Palliative care and end-of-life visitation should be discussed with the health-care team.

Virtual visitation can be an alternate way to connect with loved ones during these visitor restrictions. To arrange for a virtual visit, please discuss your request with the care team.

Out-patients and Emergency Department patients: In keeping with public health guidance to reduce the number of contacts wherever possible, patients are asked to carefully consider the necessity of bringing a support person for appointments at ambulatory clinics or when presenting to an emergency room. To support that guidance, patients who can safely manage their interaction for out-patient care without assistance/support should attend unaccompanied. Patients who are accompanied by a support person should be aware that during peak times, support persons who have remained in the waiting area may be asked to wait outside the facility, if possible, to ensure adequate space is available in the waiting area for patients. The clinical care team will accommodate one support person in the treatment area when requested by the patient and if sufficient space is available to do so safely.

As per provincial government guidelines, individuals who arrive at an Eastern Health hospital or other facility will continue to be screened for COVID-19 through a series of questions and will also be asked for contact information for contact tracing purposes. All support persons/visitors must check-in upon arrival to the facility and be screened prior to the visit. Visits will only proceed for individuals who meet the screening criteria. Visitors/support persons are advised that if they show any signs or symptoms of COVID-19, they should not enter a health-care or long-term care facility or personal care home. Instead, individuals are directed complete the COVID-19 self-assessment and testing referral tool or call 811.

Visitor restrictions during the pandemic have been critically important to the safety of our residents, patients, staff and physicians. We would like to thank the public for their understanding and co-operation during this time. Information regarding current visitation guidelines can be found on the ‘Visiting during the COVID-19 pandemic’ webpage via https://www.easternhealth.ca/covid19/visiting-during-the-covid-19-pandemic/.

Important Reminders:
• COVID-19 Testing: The public is reminded that appointments are required for COVID-19 testing clinics located across the region. Individuals are directed to complete the COVID-19 Self-Assessment and Referral Tool to help determine whether they should be tested for COVID-19. Individuals who cannot access the self-assessment tool are directed to contact 811. For more information, please visit the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador’s ‘Get Tested’ webpage via https://www.gov.nl.ca/covid-19/public-health-guidance/testing/get-tested/.
Vaccine Passport: Visitors to long-term care facilities, personal care homes and community care homes are required to present proof of COVID-19 vaccination status (digital/paper QR code or copy of an official vaccination record) or an approved medical exemption. More information can be found on the Eastern Health website.
Masking Requirements: Masks continue to be mandatory at all Eastern Health facilities, sites and clinics; during home visits from Eastern Health staff; as well as for seniors within personal care homes and long-term care facilities. The mask provided at point of entry must be worn throughout the duration of the individual’s time in our hospitals and other health-care facilities, including while visiting patient/resident rooms.
• Physical Distancing: Visitors/support persons are reminded that physical distancing (two metres/six feet) is required in all spaces throughout our hospitals or sites, including common areas, such as cafeterias, as well as patient and resident rooms. Visitors/support persons entering a health-care facility should proceed directly to the patient/resident’s room and once visitation is complete, they should immediately exit the facility.

Eastern Health thanks the public for their support and reminds them of the importance of continuing to follow public health guidance to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their communities.

We also understand that the pandemic has brought many changes and we would like to thank the public for their patience and kindness. Let’s work together to make civility and respect part of every interaction at clinics, hospitals and health-care facilities across the region.

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