Gateway Gazette

Information for People Visiting Residents & Patients

June 5, 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic has evolved, AHS has continuously considered visitation guidelines in context of risk to patients and residents of healthcare facilities, as well as to the staff providing care to these individuals.

Effective Saturday, June 6, AHS implemented enhanced visitation for all patients in both acute outpatient and inpatient settings. Existing visitation guidelines for continuing care environments will be maintained.

The enhanced visitation guidelines expand the allowance of some visitation, while maintaining specific criteria intended to protect patients, residents, volunteers and staff. These changes reflect the balance that we must continue to strike to address the ongoing risk of COVID-19, as well as the holistic well-being of patients and residents.

Families and loved ones are central to the health of all patients and residents of care facilities. We recognize that the presence of designated family/support persons directly contributes to patients’ safety, the healing process and general patient well-being.

We thank all staff and Albertans for continuing to work together to support all family members and loved ones in our care. Collaboration is vital to the health of all patients and residents.

View Visitor Guidance – printable version (also available in most Translated Resources).

Thinking Of Visiting a Loved One in a Hospital?

Outpatient and Emergency Department/Urgent Care

Effective Saturday, June 6, patients may designate one family/support person to accompany them while accessing outpatient, emergency or urgent care services in AHS facilities.

Acute Inpatient Settings

Effective Saturday, June 6, patients may designate two Family/Support persons while admitted in an inpatient unit in an acute care facility. If the room is large enough for physical distancing to be maintained, both Designated Family/Support persons may be permitted at the same time. If not, they must attend one at a time.

All facilities will have a screener greet each Family/Support person to conduct the health screening and verify if the person is authorized to enter the site.

Consistent with guidelines in place over the past number of weeks, if it is not possible for Designated Family/Support Persons to be physically present with a patient, AHS staff will provide support as needed for virtual connections through phone, video calls or chat apps.

For more information on how to support patients and their families to be in contact virtually refer to: Using Technology to Stay Connected with your Loved Ones.

Maternity/postpartum

  • In consultation with the Unit Manager/Charge Nurse on a case-by-case basis, other support persons (e.g. surrogate parent or Doula) may be permitted in addition to the two Designated Family/Support persons.

Pediatrics

  • Two parents may be designated visitors.Other children including siblings or family members under the age of 18 are not allowed to visit at any time.
  • Special consideration may be given to parents/guardians with children in Pediatric/NICU environments and persons with a dependent adult who are under quarantine or isolation. See Acute Care Guidance for Parents/Guardians Accompanying Children for more information.

End of Life Situations

  • Allow two visitors at a time if the room is large enough for physical distancing to be maintained between visitors.
  • The attending physician, in consultation with unit manager/charge nurse, determines if the patient condition is considered end-of-life.

All visitors in acute care or outpatient facilities must:

  • Be over 14 years of age and older OR accompanied by an adult.
  • Be feeling well on the date/time of entry into the facility
  • Complete health screening prior to entering the facility, including a temperature check for fever over 38 degrees Celsius (where available) and a questionnaire.
  • Wear Designated Family/Support identification;
  • Continuously wear a mask that covers the nose and mouth while inside the facility.
  • Remain in the patient’s room as much as possible and minimize movement throughout the facility.
  • Perform hand hygiene (hand washing and/or use of hand sanitizer) when entering and leaving the facility and when entering and leaving the patient’s room.
  • Not bring animals to the visit except service dogs.

Facilities will have a screener greet each visitor to conduct the health screening and verify any visitor is authorized to attend as per the above. AHS units and teams will be responsible for providing an orientation to patients and their Designated Family/Support persons including:

  • Communicating the risks, requirements and responsibilities of being in the service area, and;
  • Providing appropriate PPE to Designated Family/Support persons and instructions on how to use PPE, hand hygiene and other infection prevention and control precautions for the service area.

If you are unable to visit, please use other methods to be in touch with your loved one, such as a phone call, video calling or use FaceTime.

View Visitor Guidance – printable version (also available in most Translated Resources).

Thinking Of Visiting a Loved One in Long Term Care, Supportive Living or Congregate Living?

Residents of these sites are at extreme risk if exposed to COVID-19.

Can you visit?

Continuing care environments will continue to permit visitation as per the Chief Medical Officer of Health Order 14-2020 – an approach that respects the increased vulnerability of the patients in these settings to severe outcomes of COVID-19.

Sites may allow one Essential Visitor:

  • Where the resident’s quality of life and/or care needs cannot be met without the assistance of the Essential Visitor.
  • In end of life situations where there is a time-sensitive need to be with a loved one.
  • A resident may have only one Essential Visitor designated by the resident or guardian (or other alternate decision maker).
  • The Essential Visitor may be a family member, friend, religious and spiritual advisors or paid caregiver 18 years of age or older.

To help ensure continued protection of residents in long-term care and supportive living, as well as improve their quality of life, our visitor guidelines now allow residents of these facilities who are not in isolation to enjoy outdoor visits with a designated essential visitor and one other person. While outside, all appropriate precautions must be taken to prevent exposure to COVID-19, including physical distancing and the requirement that all visitors wear a mask or face covering.

End of Life

In addition, our guidelines have also been amended to allow up to two visitors at a time to visit a patient who is dying within any AHS facility, as long as physical distancing can be maintained between the visitors.

While it is difficult to be precise around when an individual is at end of life, this generally refers to the last two weeks of life.

  • All persons considered to be at the end of life can have a Designated Family/Support Person with them as much as required. Their presence should be coordinated with the care team and reflect the needs of both the patient and their Designated Family/Support Person.
  • Children under age 14 may visit if accompanied by an adult.
  • The length of time spent on the visit needs to reflect what both the patient and the visitor need from the visit as well as the ability of the dying patient to tolerate the visit.

There may be situations where some requested end of life visits cannot be accommodated. Based on individual patient or resident circumstances and/or operational considerations, sites may apply additional restrictions on a case-by-case basis that limit the length and frequency of in-person visits.

Recognizing the importance of connection with loved ones for the emotional well-being of patients and families in end of life situations, wherever possible, units and sites will encourage and facilitate alternative means to connect with loved ones such as virtual visits.

The enhanced guidelines also recognize unique end-of-life considerations for indigenous individuals.

We will continue to verify and screen all visitors permitted under these updated exceptions prior to entering the facility. Visitors must:

  • Pre-arrange visits with the facility manager and be expected by the site administration or charge nurse. There may be circumstances where not all visitors are able to be accommodated, even if otherwise permitted in this guidance.
  • Be feeling well on the date/time of visit.
  • Complete health screening prior to entering the facility, including a temperature check for fever over 38 degrees Celsius and a questionnaire.
  • Wear a mask or face covering while inside the facility.
  • Sign in and out of all visits.
  • Be escorted by site staff through the building to the outdoor space, if the outdoor space is not accessible from outside the building. Visitors must take appropriate precautions.
  • Perform hand hygiene (hand washing and/or use of hand sanitizer) when entering and leaving the facility and when entering and leaving the resident’s room.
  • Pets cannot be brought in by any visitor.

View Visitor Guidance – printable version (also available in most Translated Resources).

Alberta Health Services

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