Province places new visitor restrictions on continuing care facilities

by Morinville News Staff

Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw is ordering a provincewide ban on visitors to long-term care centres, licensed group homes, and other facilities as part of the ongoing work to limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect Albertans.

The amended public health order prohibits visitors unless a resident is dying or the visitor is essential for delivering care that cannot be delivered by staff. Family, friends and religious leaders will still be allowed to visit a resident who is dying. In these cases, only one visitor can enter at a time and they cannot interact with any other residents while in the building.

To date, Alberta has experienced 1,348 cases of COVID-19. Of those cases, eight percent have been at continuing care facilities. Thirteen of the province’s 24 deaths have been at continuing care facilities.

“Residents of all continuing care sites are at extreme risk if exposed to COVID-19, and we are doing everything possible to ensure their safety,” Hinshaw said. “I know this will have a profound impact on the lives of those residents and their families; this is not a step that we take lightly. I’m asking all Albertans to reach out and support their loved ones through the phone, video and any other means possible.”

Minister of Health Tyler Shandro said the order is an aggressive but necessary step to help limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health of vulnerable Albertans.

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“Our government will support any action needed to protect the lives of residents at continuing care facilities across the province,” Shandro said.

The new provincial restriction applies to all licensed supportive living, long-term care and other continuing care facilities in the province. It also applies to all residential addiction treatment operators licensed under the Mental Health Services Protection Act.

Permitted visitors must undergo a health screening, including temperature check and a questionnaire, prior to stepping inside, and anyone sick will not be allowed into the building.

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