LHSC eases hospital customer coverage citing decrease native COVID-19 transmission – London

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The London Health Sciences Center says it is relaxing its visitor policy for patient care partners, citing a reduction in local COVID-19 transmission as a factor.

Officials at the organization say that starting Monday, care partners will no longer be asked to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or to register when entering the hospital.

Inpatients at University and Victoria Hospitals are now allowed two care partners at a time, while outpatients are now allowed one care partner. However, officials note that waiting space is limited.

While proof of vaccination is no longer required for care partners, officials say screening for COVID-19 symptoms at entrances will continue and visitors will still be required to mask and practice proper hand hygiene.

Also, LHSC officials say care partners are still not allowed to eat or drink in the room of the patient they are visiting to ensure mask-wearing.

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The changes stand in stark contrast to the organization’s previous, more restrictive visitor policy.

“It was really only in extreme circumstances where carers were allowed in and that was often a child’s parent or when their loved one was actively walking by, which we know was awful and extremely distressing,” said Cathy Vandersluis. LHSC Executive Vice President and Interim Chief Clinical Officer.

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“Recently we could have nurses on-site for inpatients, but there was only one at a time and had to be on an approved list.”

A care partner is seen as someone who is important to the patient being cared for, Vandersluis said, stressing that LHSC will not be able to define this for patients.

“It really should be people who see the patients themselves as important to their care experience in the hospital,” she said.

LHSC says the policy change reflects fewer cases of COVID-19 in the community, including fewer hospital patients and staff with COVID-19, and recognizes the importance of patient caregivers.

“We recognize that nurses at our patients’ side have always been and will always be an important part of their support mechanism,” said Vandersluis.

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“We are fully aware that not being able to have these people — family members, loved ones — by her side has been extremely challenging and not what we would have wished for.”

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The policy changes went into effect at 00:01 on Monday. While care partners are no longer required to provide proof of vaccination upon entry, vaccination guidelines for LHSC staff remain in place, Vandersluis said.

There are some situations where LHSC says stricter visitor policies will be maintained, including for inpatient units experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak and when the patient himself is subject to COVID-19 precautions.

“In these circumstances, only essential carers would be allowed to come to the hospital…that would be parents of children, patients who may be in mental health crisis or have cognitive impairment, (and) working mothers,” Vandersluis said.

It’s possible that the more restrictive visitor policies could be reinstated, she said, adding that LHSC will continue to monitor local transmission, patient and staff case counts, and outbreaks within the organization.

Visit the LHSC website for more information.

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