Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Updates

Visitor Restrictions and Processes During Covid-19

Patient/client safety is at the forefront of all interactions that take place in the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services sites.  To safeguard our most vulnerable populations, prevention and early detection must be in place when visitors are accessing healthcare facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As we see an increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations and/or high community spread, Stanton Territorial Hospital (STH) has unfortunately had to make the difficult decision of reducing visitation access at our sites. We encourage patients, family and friends to maintain contact virtually rather than in-person and we have virtual access devices available to assist with this.

Thank you for your continued patience and cooperation as we protect patients, families, staff, and physicians and work to ensure our sites remain safe for all residents of the NWT.

For Patients who have current active COVID-19 infections or who are not yet recovered:
No visitors will be allowed until the patient is deemed recovered from their infection, unless an exemption is approved. Virtual options will be facilitated by staff. Exemption requests will be considered only in the case of pediatric, maternity or adult dependent patients.

  • Patients/clients/residents in healthcare facilities are often highly vulnerable; because of this, visitors are highly encouraged to be fully vaccinated before entering the healthcare facility to visit. Visitors and support people who are symptomatic are not permitted to visit in the healthcare facility. Patients/clients who are symptomatic and have appointments should call ahead before arriving to the facility for additional guidance on whether to attend the appointment or re-schedule.
  • Visitors and support people who are symptomatic are not permitted to visit in the healthcare facility. Patients/clients who are symptomatic and have appointments should call ahead before arriving to the facility for additional guidance on whether to attend the appointment or re-schedule.
  • Visitors on self-isolation should not be visiting in the healthcare facility. Persons in self-isolation requesting to visit hospital facilities must submit a request and be approved for an exemption and abide by all requirements of the exemption.
  • No children under 12 years old may visit. All children are permitted in healthcare facilities when seeking medical care. The decision to not allow children less than 12 years of age to visit is based on the age of vaccination rules. Children under the age of 12 do not qualify for COVID-19 vaccinations; therefore, they are both more at risk for contracting COVID-19 if exposed and provide an increased risk of possible transmission of the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable patients while visiting in healthcare facilities. Exemptions apply for palliative visitors. 
  • All support persons and visitors will be required to follow continuous masking guidelines and perform hand hygiene, maintain physical distancing and complete health screening upon entry to the facility.
  • Designated support persons and visitors should not come to the hospital if they are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms, been a close contact of someone with COVID-19 or if they are awaiting test results for COVID-19 unless they meet the criteria for an exemption and have been approved by the COO/AMD. 
  • Designated support persons and visitors who are immunized, are still required to follow the public health measures of physical distancing, masking, isolation, and quarantine requires as well as complete a health screening before entering the facility.
  • Designated visitors will be provided a letter by a Stanton staff member that must be presented to the screening desk upon arrival.

Designated Visitors and Support Persons

To ensure we continue to uphold the highest health and safety standards at STH, all support persons and visitors will still be required to follow continuous masking guidelines and perform hand hygiene, maintain physical distancing and complete health screening upon entry to the facility.

Designated visitors should not come to the site if they are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms, if they have been a close contact of someone with COVID-19 or if they are awaiting test results for COVID-19 unless they meet the criteria for an exemption and have been approved, in advance, by the COO/AMD. Immunized individuals are still required to follow all public health measures, including physical distancing, masking, isolation, and quarantine requirements, as well as complete a health screening before entering the facility.

Designated support persons/Visitors:

  • Are individuals identified by the patient as a needed support and who the patient wants involved in their health matters (e.g., family members, close friends, or informal/hired caregivers);
  • Must be 12 years of age or older.
  • Are strongly encouraged to be fully immunized.
  • Should be involved in care planning as much as the patient/alternate decision-maker requests.
  • Are physically and mentally able to assist the patient and staff with patient care.
  • Are not close contacts of someone with possible or confirmed COVID-19.
  • Cannot be on isolation or quarantine for any reason including having probable or confirmed, COVID-19 unless meeting the criteria of an exemption (see below section on Exemptions) and have written exemption from COO/AMD.

Responsibilities of designated support persons and visitors:

  • Do not come to the site if feeling unwell.
  • Complete the COVID-19 screening before entering a site.
  • Continuously mask at all times.
  • Perform hand hygiene when entering/leaving the facility, washrooms, and/or the patient’s room.
  • Practice physical distancing from others who are not from their immediate household;
  • Minimize movement throughout the facility unless otherwise arranged with the patient’s healthcare team and only if masking and physical distancing from others not from their immediate household can be maintained.
  • Should not share food or beverages with the patient or each other.
  • Are not permitted to visit other patients

Immunized individuals: are still required to complete screening and practice hand hygiene, physical distancing and continuous masking when at the site.

NTHSSA recognizes the significance and importance of Elders, Elders Helpers and Traditional Knowledge Keepers, and other pastoral care members.  If the patient/client requests, these individuals are welcome to visit at end-of-life provided they meet the criteria set out in this guidance.  These individuals are considered members of the care team; therefore, do not count in the total number of designated visitors.  They are required to meet screening eligibility for access to the facility, be asymptomatic, and follow all other requirements for physical distancing and PPE as appropriate.   

Doulas, patient’s lawyer for scheduled appointments and social workers (e.g. child and family services) are not part of the designated visitors and an exemption is not required.

Designated

Long Term Care Visitation

For Long Term care, each resident is allowed to have two designated essential visitors. Only one essential visitor per visit is allowed, and visits with these people can occur either inside in the resident’s room, or outside. These two designated essential visitors should be 12 years of age or older.  Every time they come to visit, the visitors will need to pass screening, have their temperature checked, sign in on the visitor log, and sanitize/wash their hands.

During the visit, the visitor must wear a medical mask, maintain a 2 meters physical distance from the resident, and regularly hand-sanitize and wash their hands. Visitors are to only use the public washrooms and must notify staff after use so that it can be cleaned. These restrictions are in place to protect the residents, as elders and seniors have a high risk of serious illness from COVID-19.

Acute Care Visitation

Inpatients can designate a maximum of 2 visitors however, only one at a time can be on site with the patient. These visitors must maintain a minimum physical distance of 2 metres from the patient/client while in the patient/client room and adhere strictly to all other facility requirements in place at the time such as: hand hygiene and wearing a mask, or other precautions determined to be appropriate by the unit manager.

Outpatient Visitation

For outpatient services, including day procedures, adult patients/clients are permitted one designated support person. Pediatric patients/clients are permitted two designated support persons. Due to physical distancing requirements, patients are discouraged from bringing support people with them to the Emergency, Laboratory, Diagnostic Imaging and Respiratory Therapy departments, unless necessary. Seniors and patients with mobility and/or cognitive challenges will be given priority to have their support person remain with them during these appointments.

Palliative Care Visitation

Two designated visitors can be identified and be on-site with the patient.  An additional four visitors can be designated but can visit by appointment only.

Emergency Department

Patients coming to the Emergency Department may be accompanied by one person if their presence is required to support the care of the patient. They must be able to physically distance from others (not from their immediate household). Seniors, minors, and patients with mobility and/or cognitive challenges will be given priority to have their support person remain with them in-person. Children 18 and under can have two designated support persons, if required.

Patients and their visitor must maintain a minimum physical distance of 2 metres from others while in the waiting room or the Department and adhere strictly to all other facility requirements in place at the time such as: hand hygiene and wearing a mask, or other precautions determined to be appropriate by the unit manager.

For Patients who have current active COVID-19 infections or who are not yet recovered: For adult dependent patients one support person may be permitted if required to support the patient’s care. Support people must be able to physically distance from others (not from those in their immediate household). The support person must be willing to isolate according to IPAC guidelines if an exposure has occurred as determined by IPAC.

For pediatric patients, two designated support persons can be identified and may be present with the patient at the same time.

Obstetrics Assessment Unit (Maternity)

Patients coming to the Obstetrics Assessment Unit can bring one designed support person. One additional designated visitor will be considered in cases where the first support person is not also a guardian of the infant. A Doula is considered part of the care team and does not count as designated visitor.

Patients and their visitor must maintain a minimum physical distance of 2 metres from others and adhere strictly to all other facility requirements in place at the time.

Testing for COVID-19 may be required to help provide isolation guidance to the designated support person.

For Patients who have current active COVID-19 infections or who are not yet recovered: One designated support person can be on-site with the patient. The support person must be willing to isolate according to IPAC guidelines if an exposure has occurred as determined by IPAC.

Screening and Visitors During COVID-19

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority (NTHSSA) continues to adjust our operations. We are working to reduce the potential for spread and exposure for our staff and the public, and have instituted the following measures:

  • Every person entering will be screened for flulike symptoms and personal travel history. Upon entry to these sites you will first be asked questions regarding your current health and any recent travel within and outside Canada. These screening procedures will apply to anyone seeking health care services, as well as visitors.
  • Any visitors displaying any flu like symptoms (cough, fever, difficulty breathing) will be denied visitation access.
  • As of September 14th, 2020, masks are required in all NWT HSS facilities and offices.  Click here to learn more.

Please do not visit care sites unless required. If you need care and services and have flu like symptoms, call ahead before presenting. If you are visiting family or friends remember these additional measures are in place to protect our clients and our staff.

In some sites like Long Term Care Facilities, we will also take visitors temperature and have additional screening measure.

Visitor Exemptions

If you believe you require a visitor exemption, speak with your care provider and they will help you with the process to request an exemption for visitation.

Patient Belongings, Gifts, Food and Flowers

Patients can have necessary belongings brought to them by their designated visitors (e.g., electronic devices, charging cables, toiletries, supportive footwear, and clothing in a cleanable container). Items must be cleaned as appropriate prior to being brought into the site.

Deliveries of food, gifts, and other personal belongings will be accepted by screening staff positioned at hospital entrances. STH cannot guarantee the delivery timeframe of these items as this is subject to staff availability. Items left for delivery should be in clean outside packaging that can be disinfected.