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Visiting Policy

Introduction

At LACGH, it is critical that we keep our patients, staff and hospital environment safe. We must all do our part to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We are taking additional precautions to keep patients, families, and staff safe including temporary changes to our Visitor Policy. 

We recognize the importance of family and or caregiver support when patients are in hospital and will make every effort to ensure that the needs of patients and families are met while these temporary measures are in place, including the use virtual technology to support connecting patients to their loved ones whenever possible.

On May 26th, 2020 the Ministry of Health provided direction to Health Care Providers as part of the evolving response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The document provides operational details and requirements, as referenced in Directive #2.

While this document aims to provide clarity for visitation and family and or support presence during COVID-19, decisions related to application of this guidance in specific circumstances rest with the clinical leadership and organizational risk assessment.

Policy

The access of an essential visitor to the hospital is be determined by the circumstances surrounding the individual patient and the contextual considerations of the hospital and the pandemic. Essential visitors are categorized in distinct populations with distinct visiting guidance for access (Appendix A).  

The term “Essential Visitor” is synonymous with Designated Care Partners (DCP) and Caregiver.  Essential Visitors are those allowed access to the hospital in situations based on compassionate care; visits that are paramount to the patient’s fundamental care needs, mental health and emotional support; enable processes of care and patient flow; and discharge from the hospital. Essential visitors are designated and alternate care partners that are any support person defined by the patient or resident as family, including friends, neighbours, substitute decision makers, privately paid workers and or relatives that advocate for a loved one’s needs and support them in managing their health, healthcare, long-term care and overall well-being. In the case of those patients who are not able to participate in decision making the substitute decision maker and or power of attorney will serve as the designated caregiver and or determine who the designated and alternative care partner is. Examples include individuals who, for a variety of reasons, are unable to provide their own medical history and/or make decisions for themselves, those who react to a medical environment with heightened emotionality and are unable to be calmed without medication or restraint, and once-in-a-lifetime events like childbirth or end-of-life.

Essential visitors must: 

  • Screen negative for COVID-19 screening protocol at the main entrance to the hospital. Essential visitors who screen positive will not be allowed to visit.
  • Sign in when screened, providing name and telephone number.
  • Wear masks or other personal protective equipment and perform hand hygiene as directed by the entrance screening desk or clinical unit;
  • Wear a badge provided by the hospital identifying themselves as the designated care partner.

Visitor Restriction Protocols:

General public visitation is not allowed for patients. Essential Visitor guidelines are defined in Appendix A.

Risk Mitigation procedures will be followed for essential visitation.

  • Regional screening recommendations on entry, including pre-screening and masking, will be followed. Information about visitors is logged and centralized to support tracking, as needed.
    • Essential Visitors will be advised to follow hand hygiene and physical distancing guidelines.
    • Designated paths will be used to limit movement within the hospital and should be kept to only the patient’s room or designated visiting space where physical distancing is possible. 
    • Outpatient clinics and Inpatient Units will proactively communicate with patients / families / caregiver(s) for planned visits whenever possible, notifying them of visitation restrictions in effect.
    • If Essential Visitors explicitly ignore or defy the Public Health requirements during their time at the hospital, they should be asked to leave. This will be at the discretion of the health care provider and or health care leader.
  • Specific to, Inpatient Essential Visitors:
    • A Caregiver ID badge (or sticker) will be provided to support visual management and indication of passed screening. The DCP must present their card at each visit.
  • Specific to,  COVID Positive Patients
    • COVID positive patients are not permitted visitors unless the patient is actively dying. For COVID-19 positive actively dying patients, visitors will be advised to follow hand hygiene and physical distancing guidelines and will be provided droplet precaution PPE to wear while they visit, as long as sufficient supplies of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) exist. This will be reviewed regularly with the care team.
    • COVID positive visitors are NOT permitted to visit.
  • This policy will be regularly reviewed to ensure it always maintains a balance between protection of staff and or patient safety and the psychosocial needs of patients and or families.

Virtual Visiting and Staying Connected

Virtual care and virtual care partner connection will be offered to all patients and care partners, regardless of whether care partners are at the bedside, or accompanying a family member. The option to have additional family members connected virtually should still be offered. 

Virtual Visits

Virtual visits will be encouraged using either the patients’ own technology device or via a tablet provided by the hospital. (Care team staff: please refer to the IT department for these patients who are identified to have this need).

Patients can connect to the free LAC Public Wi-Fi and use video apps such as FaceTime, Messenger and Zoom without using up their data plan. If a patient does not have a device, we are happy to arrange a Virtual Visit (video chat). These can be facilitated by either requesting a Virtual Visit appointment via email: VirtualVisits@lacgh.napanee.on.ca  or speaking with the care team staff.

Send an E- Postcard Message

If a patient doesn’t have their own email account and family and or friends would like to send them a message, they can send an ‘e-postcard’ to us though the Hospital’s website and we will deliver it. 

Essential Visitor Guidelines

Essential Visitor Guidelines
Category Clinical Team Guidance Guidance
All Patients If visitation is requested by the family and or team 1 designated care partner
Palliative care patients with a Palliative Performance Scale (PPS) of 30% or less Comfort measures and goals of care have been established 2 visitors concurrently as long as social distancing can be maintained
Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) Team will establish needs with the patient and SDM/POA To be determined by team members giving consideration to social distancing requirements.
Under 18 years old Care by parent 1 designated care provider
Patients requiring transition of care support Coordination of care (e.g. home care, follow up instructions) Virtual or phone conversation