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COVID-19: LHSC, St. Joseph’s pause non-essential visitation amid case surge

Matthew Trevithick / Global News

All non-essential visitations are being paused by London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) and St. Joseph’s Health Care London (SJHCL) as a result of the ongoing surge of COVID-19 cases and a rise in infections among health-care workers.

In a statement Thursday, officials with LHSC announced that the organization would pause “all non-essential care partner visits” at the organization effective at midnight in a bid to maintain a safe environment for patients and staff at LHSC and Children’s Hospital.

“We know that families and friends help patients heal and we are working hard to balance this factor with the need for enhanced safety during this difficult time,” Robert Sibbald, LHSC’s director of patient experience, said in a statement.

As part of the change, LHSC says all non-essential visits are being halted, and one essential visitor will be permitted at any one time. For Children’s Hospital inpatients and those in palliative care, two essential visitors will be permitted.

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“Essential visitors include those supporting labouring women, parents of children, and relatives of those in palliative care,” read an LHSC release.

Patients will be asked to identify their essential care partners before appointments or on admission.

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St. Joseph’s Health Care London, meanwhile, announced that general visiting had been paused effective immediately across all of its programs, including at Mount Hope and Parkwood Institute.

It noted, however, that essential caregiver presence for residents and inpatients, and accompaniment on outpatient appointments, remained in effect.

For those admitted for an inpatient stay, SJHCL says up to two essential caregivers can attend for an indoor visit for a total of up to two hours per day, however in ward rooms, more than one patient may have essential caregivers at a time at the discretion of the care team.

For patients in isolation, one essential caregiver can visit up to two hours with required personal protective equipment, daily, at the person’s bedside.

For those engaged in an outpatient appointment or procedure, one essential caregiver will be allowed for the duration of the appointment, while at the Urgent Care Centre, one essential caregiver will be allowed for the duration of the visit.

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For those receiving surgery and whose stay is estimated to be under three days, two essential caregivers will be allowed in consultation with the care team.

Palliative care patients and those considered “actively dying” will be allowed a limit of 10 essential caregivers, with some stipulations.

Both LHSC and SJHCL say identified essential caregivers will be asked to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 and show government-issued photo ID.

More information on the visitation changes can be found on the websites of LHSC and SJHCL.

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The announcement comes amid an explosion of COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, driven in large part by the Omicron variant, which has led to a notable uptick in positive infections among local health-care staff.

LHSC reported on Thursday that at least 135 staff members within the organization were positive for COVID-19 as of Thursday, an increase of 22 from Wednesday and an increase of 85 from Dec. 23.

SJHCL, meanwhile, reported 32 active staff cases on Thursday, an increase of seven from Wednesday and an increase of 20 from Friday.

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London and Middlesex County reported one death and a record 496 cases on Thursday, a significant jump over the 378 cases reported just on Wednesday — itself a record.

Ontario, meanwhile, set another record for new daily COVID-19 infections on Thursday with 13,807 cases reported.

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