On Monday, June 29, we happily welcomed back visitors for inpatients at all of our sites. This was exciting news for patients and their loved ones, who would once again be able to visit face-to-face. During the first four days of allowing visitors back to Niagara Health, more than 1,000 visitors entered our sites to see inpatients in the hospital.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most families have been communicating virtually with patients and their care teams in the hospital over the past few months. Niagara Health helped support patients and families during this difficult time by providing free phone and WiFi services in the hospital. Patients also have access to free television service to help them stay connected to the outside world.
Although technology can help keep families connected, we know that face-to-face visits have a positive impact on patients – and we're pleased to be able to begin lifting visitor restrictions at our sites. Here is what some of our visitors had to say about seeing their loved ones over the past few days:
- “It was so nice to see my family member again. The process to enter the building is very well organized and I feel very safe at the hospital."
- “It's an excellent system – everything during my visit went very smoothly."
- “It's wonderful to be able to see my mom again. I haven't seen her since mid-March and I know being able to see her face-to-face makes a difference in her care. Everyone – including the nurses, doctors and environmental services staff –on her unit is so kind."
Welcoming back visitors is also welcome news for our team members who understand the importance of involving families in patient care.
“We have missed our families, who are important supports for our patients and play an integral role in the care journey. This week, it has been a blessing to welcome back families – our patients look forward to these visits," says Lisa Hildebrand, Manager of SCS 3A. “Patients not being able to see their families has been one of the most difficult parts of the pandemic. Although our teams were able to help coordinate virtual visits – thanks in part to the generous donation of iPads to Niagara Health – it was still difficult and patients were lonely at times. Welcoming visitors back has been a very positive experience and we're happy our patients are able to see their loved ones again."
As part of many generous community donations, Niagara Health received iPads from Rogers Communications and The Rotary Club of Niagara Falls, as well as through the Conquer COVID fundraising group.
“Visitors, whether family or friends, are such an important piece in treating the whole person and maintaining a patient-centered care approach," says Allison Petrella, Manager of GNG Units C and D. “It's wonderful to now have the opportunity to support visits, while maintaining the safety of our team members, patients and visitors."
As it has been throughout the COVID pandemic, safety remains our top priority, so we're taking a gradual approach to lifting visitor restrictions.
Currently, inpatients may have one visitor during each designated visiting block – 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. daily. Visitors must also meet certain criteria, including passing screening every time they enter the building, and follow important infection prevention and control practices while at the hospital, such as cleaning their hands often and maintaining a proper physical distance. For visitors, there is also a mandatory masking policy in place – all visitors must bring their own mask and wear it all times while in the hospital.
For more information on how we`re welcoming visitors back to our sites, please visit the Visitor Information web page.