Markham mother cites rising COVID-19 cases as reason behind reduced visiting hours in ICU

Click to play video 'Markham mother cites rising COVID-19 case counts as reason for restricted ICU visits' Markham mother cites rising COVID-19 case counts as reason for restricted ICU visits
WATCH ABOVE: Laura Meffen’s daughter Emily has been in the ICU since November. She suffers from a rare neuromuscular degenerative disease. Her mother says she never knows how much time she will be able to visit because of COVID-19 restrictions and is begging people to follow the rules so people like her can spend time with loved ones. Katherine Ward reports. – Jan 12, 2021

As COVID-19 case numbers rise, hospitals have had to tighten up policies around who is allowed in and out of their facilities.

This can be especially tough for families with loved ones in a hospital intensive care unit .

Laura Meffen said she struggles with this everyday. Her 22-year-old daughter, Emily, has been in the ICU since November.

“I was scared that I was going to lose Emily,” Laura said.

Read more: Coronavirus: Toronto ICU physician describes realities of dying without loved ones physically present

Emily has a rare neurodegenerative disease and was admitted late fall after she aspirated. It wasn’t Emily’s first time in intensive care.

Last spring she contracted COVID-19 and was also admitted. Since then, Laura said the virus has weakened Emily’s body.

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Emily is still in the ICU, where visitor restrictions throughout the pandemic have taken a toll on the family.

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“Not being able to hug her and hold her for over nine months, it’s devastating,” Laura said through tears.

Laura said the amount of time she is allowed to visit Emily inside the ICU is constantly in flux.

She says the changes seem to correlate with the rise and fall of Ontario’s COVID-19 case counts.

“As those numbers go up, the hospital has to restrict visitors and again you see the hours, my hours went from 12 hours, to four hours, to two hours, to one hour to no hours,” Laura said.

When she can be there in person Laura believes it makes a huge difference for Emily. “I can turn on her videos, I can entertain her, I can read her books, I can joke around, I can get that smile.”

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READ MORE: Ontario declares 2nd state of emergency, issues stay-at-home order

Laura said she is worried about prolonged separation could mean.

“Her will to live is diminishing. I’m there, I’m giving her that will, I’m giving her that strength, and If I’m not there, I just don’t know what will happen,” Laura said.

She also wants people to realize that this could happen to anyone.

“With more people going into the hospital, it might be your family, it might be your friend, it might be you. And you are not going to be able to have your loved one come in.”