LITTLE CURRENT – Manitoulin Health Centre (MHC) has modified its visitor restrictions as part of the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, MHC is modifying the term essential visitor to “designated care partner,” with only the latter allowed to visit patients in the hospitals.
“We have a new policy in place for visitors,” confirmed Tim Vine, vice-president of corporate support services and chief financial officer for MHC, last week.
According to the MHC website, “as we gradually resume some services, we are making every effort possible to ease restrictions on visitors, while following guidance from the Ministry of Health. Since mid-March, only essential visitors have been allowed at MHC. These restrictions have been difficult on patients, their families, as well as our staff, but have been necessary to ensure everyone’s safety during the first wave of COVID-19. MHC is modifying the term essential visitor to designated care partner. Only designated care partners are allowed to visit the hospital. Designated partners are more than just visitors. They are crucial members of the care team and provide essential physical, emotional, social and spiritual support.”
The website goes on to explain that, “designated care providers are defined as family members or other persons of significance in the life of the patient. They are designated by the patient or substitute decision maker (SDM) and work with them and the health care team to provide care, care planning and decision making. Please note that times for care partner visitation may vary on different units to ensure adequate space for social distancing and other safety practices.”
Other rules outline that designated care partners must wear a mask at all times when at the hospital. Handmade masks are acceptable as are those available at retailers in the community. The following guidelines are in place for designated care partners: “patients with communication, physical or cognitive impairments or those experiencing a mental health crisis preventing the appropriate provision of care—one designated care partner; patients requiring care partner for discharge instructions/training, significant care decisions, disclosure of potentially traumatic test results/prognosis—one designated care partner; patients very ill or at risk of imminent death-four designated care partners. There are exceptions for additional care providers made on a compassionate basis; patients having emergency, unscheduled admission—one designated care partner for one visit; child or youth-two designated care partners. One may visit at a time; patients giving birth—two designated care partners.
Care partners must also pass screening at the main entrance to enter our buildings. Patients can still access the emergency department 24 hours a day.”