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COVID-19: Visitor Guidelines at Hospitals and Health Care Facilities

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Horizon has taken measures in our facilities to reduce patient traffic and create a safe and healthy environment for our patients, clients, staff, physicians and communities.

By limiting the number of people in our facilities through visitor restrictions, we are reducing the chance of COVID-19 infecting our patients, clients, staff and physicians. 

Horizon understands the important role the presence of family and loved ones can have in a patient’s recovery, and we are pleased to be in a position to safely increase access to our facilities in accordance with best practices.

Admitted patients in our hospitals and health care facilities will now be able to welcome TWO healthy social visitors at a time. This may be two designated support persons (DSP) OR two social visitors OR one DSP and one social visitor.

Please note: A social visitor is different from a DSP. A social visitor is not essential and is not involved in supporting the patient or assisting with emotional or physical support, patient care or decision making.

Guidelines for social visitors and designated support persons (DSPs):

  • All designated support persons (DSPs) and social visitors must monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms before each visit.
  • Inpatients are allowed TWO healthy visitors at a time. This may be two designated support persons (DSP) OR two social visitors OR one DSP and one social visitor.
  • Any patient who requires emotional or physical support in their care, and assistance with decision making can have up to TWO DSPs, with two present at a time as space permits.  
  • Visiting hours for social visitors is daily, from 2 to 8 p.m. Hours for DSPs are flexible and are determined in discussion with the health care staff. Exceptions to these visiting hours can be found below.
  • DSPs and social visitors are no longer required to show proof of vaccination. Horizon strongly urges all visitors and DSPs to be up to date on their vaccinations. You are up to date if you have received all recommended COVID-19 vaccine doses, including any booster dose(s) when eligible, in accordance with New Brunswick Public Health’s vaccination schedule for COVID-19. Vaccines have been proven to reduce the incidents of severe illness, hospitalization or death. The vaccination requirement for DSPs and Social Visitors as a measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19 will continue to be monitored and reinstated as needed.
  • Active screening of patients, DSPs and social visitors will take place before entering a Horizon facility. A screener will greet you and ask you a series of COVID-19 related questions, including questions about COVID-19 symptoms and recent international travel. Screeners and the questions are in place to help protect patients, staff, DSPs and social visitors. Do your part to help keep our health care facilities safe by answering questions honestly and respectfully. If you are not feeling well, please do not visit the hospital.
  • A negative self-administered Point of Care Test does not override screening criteria. For example, if a patient or DSP has two COVID-19 symptoms, they fail screening and can’t enter the building, regardless of a negative test result.
  • Patients, social visitors and DSPs are required to wear a mask in a Horizon hospital or health care facility, which will be provided to you at screening. If you are wearing a KN95 face mask or N95 respirator, you will not be asked to change it. Mask exemptions are made on a case-by-case basis by the health care team involved in providing health care services.  Any patient with a valid medical exemption to wearing a mask, is asked to call in advance to the department or service to ensure arrangements can be made to accommodate.
  • DSPs and social visitors must follow the facility’s Infection Prevention and Control policies, such as maintaining physical distancing from health care staff, cleaning their hands frequently, and not eating or drinking in the patient’s room.
  • Social visitors must limit their interactions with staff, patients and other visitors. They must leave the patient’s room when staff are conducting procedures.
  • At any time, staff can restrict the number of social visitors in an area or the length of visits to ensure physical distancing can be maintained.
  • ­­­­­No social visitation is permitted for patients on outbreak units or units under investigation for potential outbreaks.
  • Personal pet visitation is permitted for patients who are not exhibiting signs and symptoms of COVID-19. In exceptional circumstances personal pet visitation may be arranged for a COVID-19 suspect or confirmed palliative patient. Arrangements for pet visitation must be coordinated with the patient’s clinical team and nurse manager.

Your hospital may need to implement restrictions to social visitation if a patient care unit or a department has an outbreak of COVID-19. Please call ahead to confirm social visitation is permitted. DSPs may have access to visit during an outbreak and are requested to speak to the health care staff before their visit regarding what is required of them.

Visitor Exceptions

Some further exceptions are in place for certain patients. They are:

The following guidelines apply to palliative visitation in any alert level.

  • Patients at end of life/palliative can have unlimited DSPs with TWO present at a given time. This number can increase to FIVE DSPs when a patient is actively dying. Exceptions to increase the number of DSPs will be discussed on a case by case basis and will be based on the personal circumstances of the patient physical limitations of the space.
  • ONE additional visitor for pastoral/spiritual care for a palliative care patient at the end-of-life is permitted to visit to provide comfort to the patient, family and loved ones during this end-of-life care period.
  • International travellers must follow Health Canada testing and isolation guidelines. DSPs with risk factors associated with international travel will be required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR Test. Please speak to the health care team to discuss the testing process.

Critical Care and Neonatal Intensive Care patients may have up to TWO designated support persons with ONE designated support persons at a time. Exceptions to accommodate the identified number of  DSPs or increase the number of DSPs will be discussed on a case by case basis and will be based on the personal circumstances of the patient and physical limitations of the space.

The length of these visits will be determined by the unit staff based on unit activity.

TWO designated support persons can be appointed and visit at a time. One of the DSPs can be a Registered Doula.

 

For Pediatrics and post-partum patients, TWO designated support persons or two social visitors OR one DSP and one social visitor can visit. Social visitors are permitted to visit during designated visiting hours.

Residents of Ridgewood Veterans Wing (Ridgewood) (Saint John) and the Veterans Health Unit (VHU) (Fredericton) can have up to FIVE DSPs, with TWO present at any given time.

At Ridgewood, up to TWO social visitors are also welcome from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

At VHU, up to TWO social visitors are also welcome from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

TWO visitors can be present at any given time. This may be two designated support persons (DSP) OR two social visitors OR one DSP and one social visitor.

Patients visiting Emergency Departments can have ONE designated support person accompany them.

Patients visiting Outpatient Departments may have ONE support person accompany them.

Patients requiring obstetrical ultrasounds may have ONE support person present in the exam room for the second part of the exam (viewing).

At DischargeONE healthy individual is allowed to pick up discharged patients.

Visitation processes are in place for DSPs from outside of Canada for compassionate reasons. A request to the facility’s executive director or designate must be submitted to obtain permission to visit a Horizon facility for compassionate reasons.

Under exceptional circumstances, a one-time rapid test may be available and if negative for COVID-19, the family member may be permitted to visit within that 24-hour period from the time the swab was obtained.

A DSP is an active partner in care and an essential member of the health care team who can provide personalized physical, and emotional support, as deemed important by the patient.

A DSP is an individual the patient wants involved in their care and can include family members, close friends or other caregivers and are identified/designated by the patient or substitute decision maker (SDM).

A social visitor is different from a designated support person (DSP). A social visitor is not essential and is not involved in supporting the patient or assisting with emotional or physical support, patient care or decision making.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Horizon has taken measures in our facilities to reduce patient traffic and create a safe and healthy environment for our patients, clients, staff, physicians and communities. By limiting the number of people in our facilities through visitor restrictions, we are reducing the chance of COVID-19 infecting our patients, clients, staff and physicians. To balance the benefit between patient care and the risk of COVID-19, the overall number of DSPs permitted and number of DSPs who can be present at one time varies depending the patient’s condition and COVID-19 activity levels within the hospital and community.

DSPs will be required to complete online education about Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) rules to help keep them, their loved one and health care workers safe. To access the DSP online education, click here. (If there are problems completing the online training, DSPs can receive training within the hospital by appointment).

If you have questions about the DSP program, please email DSP-PSD@horizonnb.ca or call the toll-free number 1-833-625-1653.

Visitor Guidelines are Keeping Your Loved Ones – and Our Staff – Safe

Banner for Communicating with Loved Ones

Horizon wants to ensure everyone in our communities understand why we have continued visitor restrictions or guidelines as we move through our COVID-19 recovery plan.

Around the globe we have seen the number of cases grow at rapid speeds, and although case numbers are generally down in New Brunswick and throughout Canada, we know how quickly things can change.

The guidelines that are in place will continue to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. By limiting the number of people in our facilities through visitor guidelines, we are reducing the chance of COVID-19 infecting our patients, clients, staff and physicians.

At Horizon we understand this is difficult, especially during a time of uncertainty, but the health of your loved ones and our staff and physicians is our top priority. These guidelines are in place to protect them.

We continue to work with our patients, their families and care partners to identify alternate ways to communicate with limitations on visitors in our facilities. Check out some helpful tools below:

  • Horizon’s Well Wishes Program: our dedicated staff are pleased to personally deliver a well-wishing email to a patient in any of our hospitals. Learn more and deliver a message today by clicking HERE.
  • Consider calling or using video messaging where technology permits. In partnership with local hospital Foundations and Auxiliaries, we offer free wireless Internet access for patients and their families at many of our hospitals and facilities. More information is available HERE.
  • Most patient beds are equipped with a private telephone. Upon request and by following the specific instructions a telephone service can be provided.

We hope you find comfort through these resources and continue to use them during these times when visits are limited.  Remember: these guidelines will continue to protect your loved ones.

Patient/Designated Support Person Personal Items

In addition to these visitor guidelines, we have also introduced limitations to what items can be brought into or dropped off at our facilities for patients, including food and clothing. Please note: This does not apply to patients being admitted to hospital (new admissions).

We can accept a patient’s personal items as long as they can be easily wiped and cleaned with a disinfectant. Accepted personal items include: electronic devices, glasses, hearing aids, etc.

Patient/DSP personal items will be accepted into the facility if items can be easily cleaned and disinfected.

The PDF is an example of accepted and not accepted items but is not an all-inclusive list.

Take-Out Food and Homemade Food

Take-out and homemade food will now be permitted for patients in all phases of the pandemic.

Take-out food must come from a licensed establishment and will only be permitted if a support person or social visitor is available to deliver to the patient’s room. Staff will not be responsible for the delivery of food. Food delivery personnel will not be permitted to deliver food to the patient’s room.

If a patient chooses to have take-out food delivered at the hospital, the delivery person will need to successfully pass the screening protocol at the facility’s designated entrance before the food is accepted into the facility. The designated support person or social visitor will then pick up the food at the entrance.

Homemade food is permitted if a support person or social visitor is available to deliver the food to the patient’s room. The food must be stored in a container that can be easily cleaned and disinfected with a hospital approved cleaner/disinfectant wipe. The container must be taken home for cleaning and not left in the patient’s room.

Information for contractors

Contractors who are required to be at a Horizon facility for essential construction work must arrive on the property at an entrance that has been agreed upon with their Facilities, Engineering and Property Management (FEPM) contact.

They must notify the FEPM contact by phone when they arrive, and their FEPM contact will review all screening questions. No contractors should arrive on-site if they have any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever above 38 degrees Celsius
  • A new cough, or worsening chronic cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Headache
  • A new onset of fatigue
  • A new onset of muscle pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of sense of taste
  • Loss of sense of smell
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Pneumonia

Contractors must be aware of and follow a designated path to the approved work area. Contractors must not travel through the hospital.

When a contractor is ready to leave a site because work is complete, or for lunch or supplies, they should notify the FEPM contact.

Note: Notification of construction start-up must be provided at least five (5) business days in advance. Contractors will need to provide a written COVID-19 compliance plan, measures and monitoring process that complies with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and associated regulations and Public Health directives and guidelines. Construction activity on-site must also follow all facility Infection Prevention and Control guidelines.