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Lakeridge Health shuts doors for most visitors

By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express

Lakeridge Health has closed its doors to all visitors in order to combat COVID-19 and prevent the spread of the virus.

Leslie Motz, vice-president of clinical services and chief nursing executive at Lakeridge Health, says the five hospitals under the organization’s umbrella, as well as the organization’s community clinics, have all adopted the same protocols.

“We are screening anyone entering our organization – that includes our staff, our visitors and our patients,” says Motz. “At all of our doors we are doing that screening to identify anyone that may be high risk, and then we have appropriate processes in place to isolate and do further assessment on those patients before they’re allowed to go further into our organization.”

She adds it’s very helpful for residents to understand they will be screened before they arrive at the hospital.

“The other big change we have made recently is that we have added a restricted visitor protocol to all of our hospitals,” she says.

The new protocol means there are no visitors, with some exceptions. Motz says they have made some exceptions, particularly in the labour and delivery unit, as well as the paediatric unit.

They allow one visitor per day into those areas, so a key person can attend to the needs of the patient. She also notes there are some exclusions for their patients in palliative care to ensure there is family present.

She notes there are other cases assessed on a need-by-need basis.

“Visitors we know will increase travel, will increase spread to our vulnerable population as well as our providers, so we have to implement a no visitor protocol with some exceptions in some clinical areas,” explains Motz.

Motz notes Lakeridge is using apps such as FaceTime and other technology to make sure their patients can still connect with their loved ones.

“On our website, we have an email a patient option, so that we can deliver emails to our patients who are not able to have visitors, so we’re encouraging family members to take the opportunity to reach out by emails,” adds Motz.

In order to protect the staff at Lakeridge Health organizations, Motz explains the organization has a very clear set of guidelines for appropriate use of protective apparel.

“That is guided by the Ministry of Health, as well as Public Health of Ontario, and the Medical Officer of Ontario [Dr. David Williams],” she says. “We are adhering to those guidelines, and there’s varying levels of requirement based on the patient’s condition, and we are absolutely complying with that and ensuring our teams are well trained to utilize that, and to keep not only themselves protected, but the rest of our patients.”

In terms of Lakeridge Health – Oshawa, an area which is frequently trafficked is the cancer centre, where many patients can be found doing chemotherapy, and thus have compromised immune systems.

To protect these patients, Motz explains Lakeridge Health is doing everything they can.

“Every patient is screened, we have implemented the no visitor restrictions in [the cancer centre] as well, and that’s a great example as to why we have had to implement a no visitor protocol within our organization,” says Motz.

She adds Lakeridge does a “double-screening” on all ambulatory patients. So not only are they screened when they come in the door, but they will be asked more questions when they register.

“It’s just to ensure that we are checking in on these folks, and making sure they don’t have any symptoms that require a different level of care, and then we will certainly implement that different level of care if it is needed,” she says.

For more information regarding Lakeridge Health’s policies regarding COVID-19, visit lakeridgehealth.on.ca

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