Visitation restrictions evolving at CKHA sites

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By Bruce Corcoran

As the possibility of a second wave of COVID-19 looms, Chatham-Kent Health Alliance (CKHA) officials are working to alter visitations at our hospitals during the pandemic.

Lori Marshall, president and CEO of the CKHA, said visitor restrictions have been challenging for everyone. She said the goal is to help keep patients in touch with their families as much as possible.

“It is one of the most difficult things we have faced in the pandemic: How do we make sure we are connecting patients with their loved ones?” she said. “Family is good medicine. It makes a huge difference for people, especially if they are feeling vulnerable or worried.”

At the height of the pandemic this summer, Marshall said the CKHA restricted hospital visitors to the point that “only the most significant issues were permitted to have a visitor.

“Palliative care, imminent death, life-threatening kinds of surgery, we were really very limited in our visitation regulations,” she said.

The goal is to now create a balance to maintain social distancing and create a safe environment for patients and hospital personnel, but at the same time keeping patients connected with loved ones.

“We instituted a care partner system, someone who the patient identifies as someone very significant in their lives,” Marshall said. “It would be someone who comes in on a regular basis. It could just be to hold that patient’s hand, or help with feeding, or helping the patient walk around.”

The care partner concept began with patients in hospital for an extended period of time, but has since expanded to other units, including the stroke unit, and the in-patient mental health ward.

“We’ve received some really great feedback on this concept,” she said.

Marshall said virtual visiting is improving as well, but she understands the limitations.

“Nothing really replaces face-to-face, person-to-person contact,” she said.

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