Families across New Brunswick can now arrange for outdoor visits with loved ones at long-term care facilities thanks to the government’s shift to the next level in the “yellow” phase of the province’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
But the wait may be a little longer.
Under this new phase, outdoor visits are permitted with social distancing measures in place along with other protocols.
Many facilities in the Saint John region were not open to guest visits on Friday.
Global News contacted and researched eight nursing homes and not one was open, with many saying they simply were not ready.
One said it wasn’t planning to be able to open until June 12.
Another, Kings Way LifeCare Alliance in Quispamsis, posted on its Facebook page that there was “confusion” over what is “recommended from Public Health, Social Development and what was said in the announcement.”
“We were aware that this announcement would be coming but were not expecting it so soon,” CEO Tammy Allaby said, in a follow-up email to Global News. “Since the announcement was made, government has recognized that homes require some time to put a plan in place to protect the safety of staff and residents.
“We are currently working to put a proper plan in place and we are excited to proceed with caution in a way that protects our residents and staff while still supporting our families to visit.”
Social Development Minister Dorothy Shephard said the government did not intend to “blindside” operators of long-term care homes with the move to the next level of the yellow phase.
She said her department will work with operators so they can open when they believe it is safe.
“They are in control,” Shephard said of the long-term care home operators. “It’s very important that they understand this is not a mandated issue from the government. We are saying that it’s time now….it’s time now to do so, when you’re prepared.”
Shepard also said she is confident New Brunswick can take the step despite the ongoing outbreak at Manoir de la Vallée long-term care facility in Atholville, N.B., where one resident has died and other residents and workers have tested positive for COVID-19.
“We need to assure the public that we’re taking every precaution we can take,” Shephard said. “We need to empower the administrators to say they’re the ones that make the final decision, ask families to be patient and work with their homes to understand that protection of the residents and employees is a priority.”
Shepard said the government has a soft target date of June 19 for when it is hoping to allow indoor visits to longterm care facilities.
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