Manitoba, Sask. to begin allowing visits to hospitals, care homes under some circumstances

Both Manitoba and Saskatchewan are slowly easing up restrictions on visits to hospitals and care homes.

Each province announced changes to policies on visiting family members in care during COVID-19. During the pandemic, visits have been forbidden in both provinces for all but compassionate reasons.

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"We know that the last few months have been incredibly difficult for patients and their families. Both [chief provincial health officer] Dr. [Brent] Roussin and I myself have received many letters from you. [We've] heard personally the stories and we want to thank you for sharing that honest feedback and personal stories for us with us," said Lanette Siragusa, Manitoba provincial chief nursing officer, during a June 3 media briefing on COVID-19.

On the Manitoba side, visitor access for patients will be restored as part of phase two of the province's reopening plan. People will be able to visit loved ones, but not under all circumstances or without restrictions.

Most inpatients will be able to pick one support person who can vist them once per day. For patients who have been in hospital or care for more than two weeks, a second person can be selected. Visits will be restricted to one person at a time, with exceptions for children under adult supervision and specific patients.

Expectant mothers will be able to identify people who can be present with them during labour and delivery, with one person able to possibly stay overnight. After birth, designated visitors can be present at the same time.

Palliative care may see different procedures depending on the health of individual patients.

"For end of life care, it is not always possible to accurately predict when things will happen, but the care team will consider the stage of illness, the trajectory of decline and the projected timing of death," said Siragusa.

In Saskatchewan, criteria for visits will be expanded over the next week. 

Under certain circumstance, two people at the same time will be able to enter a long-term care home at a time for visits. Both must be healthy and show no sign of flu-like symptoms. Two designated family members or support workers can be present at the same time, while maintaining social distancing, in intensive care and critical care.

Outdoor visits with long-term care clients will be allowed with more than one person at a time. A family member or support person can be present for inpatient, outpatient or emergency and urgent care patients with issues with mobility, disabilities, decision making or comprehension.

Two family members or support people will be able to be present for palliative care patients.

- with files from Cassidy Dankochik

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