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B.C. revises COVID-19 visitor restrictions after woman with disability dies alone in hospital

Death of B.C. special needs woman prompts government policy change
WATCH: A B.C. woman with cerebral palsy died alone in Peace Arch hospital, after the hospital refused to allow any of her support workers be with her. John Hua reports.

The B.C. government has revised its policy around essential support visitors in hospitals during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The change comes after the death of a non-verbal B.C. woman, which disability advocates say highlighted the need for a clear policy on who should be considered an essential hospital visitor.

READ MORE: B.C. woman with disability dies alone in hospital due to COVID-19 visitor restrictions

Ariis Knight had cerebral palsy and communicated with her family and support workers through her eyes and facial expressions.

She was admitted to Peace Arch Hospital in White Rock on April 15 with symptoms of congestion, fever and vomiting, but did not have COVID-19.

Her support staff were not permitted access due to restrictions put in place during the pandemic. Not long after being admitted, Knight was put on end-of-life care, and died days later at the age of 40.

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Warning ignored from B.C. disability advocate about essential hospital visitors
Warning ignored from B.C. disability advocate about essential hospital visitors

Health Minister Adrian Dix said Tuesday that the province has revised guidance on essential visitors that takes into account “the importance of assistance for persons with disabilities who have special needs such as feeding, mobility, communicating, or need assistance in decision-making.”

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Dix said the revision came at the request of the disability community and will help health-care staff make decisions around essential visits.

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— With files from John Hua and Sean Boynton