Eastern Health Provides Update on Services

December 31, 2021 – St. John’s, NL: Eastern Health advises the public of temporary changes to services, effective January 4, 2022. Eastern Health will focus on urgent and emergent acute services at health-care sites within the city, including the Health Sciences Centre, St. Clare’s Mercy Hospital, and the Dr. L.A. Miller Centre. These changes will enable resources to be redeployed to assist with the COVID-19 public health response, e.g.: administration of COVID-19 booster vaccines and COVID-19 swab clinics.

Urgent and emergent appointments are proceeding in the following areas: Adult Outpatient Clinics, Regional Medicine Program, Children and Women’s Health, and Rehabilitation, Palliative Care and Geriatric Medicine Services. Regional Surgical Services will proceed with urgent and emergent, cardiac and cancer surgeries. Unless otherwise stated below, only those patients whose appointments are going ahead will be contacted. If you have not been contacted, your appointment is cancelled.

Medical Imaging

  • The Medical Imaging Program will be performing exams on a priority basis. Patients will be contacted only if their appointment has been cancelled for MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), CT scan (Computed Tomography), Ultrasound, Mammography, X-ray, Nuclear Medicine, PET scan (Positron Emission Tomography) and BMD (bone mineral densitometry).

Children and Women’s Health

  • All Maternal Fetal Assessment Unit (MFAU) and prenatal appointments will continue.
  • For all other appointments, only those patients whose appointment is going ahead will be contacted to confirm. If you have not been contacted your appointment is cancelled.

Provincial Cancer Care Program

  • All radiation therapy and chemotherapy appointments will proceed. Patients will be contacted directly if there is any change to their clinic appointments.

Outpatient Laboratory Services (January 4-7, 2022): All sites in the Eastern Health region

  • All non-urgent appointments have been cancelled.
  • Urgent/emergent laboratory testing and services will continue.
  • Eastern Health’s outpatient blood collection sites are restricted to urgent blood collection only. This includes blood testing for patients requiring: INRs (international normalized ratios), therapeutic drug-level monitoring testing and, for cancer care patients, monitoring of cancer clinic profiles and other required cancer-related testing.

Visitor Restrictions

Eastern Health reminds the public that temporary expanded visitor restrictions are in place at facilities and sites across the region, as per updated provincial guidelines. 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.

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/.

Please see information below regarding the process to drop off personal belongings to loved ones at health-care facilities as well as the temporary discontinuation of resident day passes.

Patient/Resident Belongings:

  • Beginning on January 1, 2022, arrangements can be made for the drop off of personal belongings for residents and patients admitted to any of Eastern Health’s health-care facilities. Please ensure that clothing items are freshly laundered, and that food items do not require refrigeration. Please also note that personal toiletries should be non-scented products. In addition, flowers with strong scents or are allergy inducing including, but not limited to, lilies, poinsettias, and baby’s breath are not permitted. All personal items should be placed in a clear bag with the resident/patient’s name clearly written on the package along with the sender’s name. Packages will be accepted at the door and delivered by a staff person to the resident/patient.
  • At this time, loved ones are asked to drop off belongings, beginning on January 1, 2022, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (daily). Hours of operation may be adjusted, as needed. Please consult the resident/patient’s health-care team for further details and to confirm the drop off time prior to arriving at the health-care facility.

Resident and Patient Day Passes:

  • All day and overnight passes for long-term care residents are discontinued, except in the most extenuating circumstances, which must be approved by a manager of the home. In such circumstances, the resident and their escort are given information about infection prevention and control measures, including use of personal protective equipment, social distancing and hand hygiene.
  • The resident and escort are advised that where there is a risk of potential exposure to COVID-19 this may result in isolation of the resident upon return to the home or the resident may not be permitted entry into the home.
  • In addition, there are no day or overnight passes for patients in acute hospitals.

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/.
  • Emergency Departments: Eastern Health reminds the public that, in order to limit the spread of COVID-19 and to keep both our communities and health-care workers safe, visits to the emergency department are for urgent and emergent health-care issues only. Individuals can call the 811 HealthLine to speak to a registered nurse 24 hours a day, seven days a week about any health issue or concern. In case of an emergency, individuals should proceed to the nearest emergency department or call 911 for an ambulance.

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. These precautions are designed to help keep patients, clients, residents, visitors, staff and physicians safe and help in the prevention and spread of infection.

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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