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Staying connected this Mother’s Day in the midst of COVID-19
To keep residents and patients safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority (IERHA) continues to follow provincial guidelines to protect the health and wellbeing of residents and patients. Extra precautions are necessary for people who are more vulnerable to health complications associated with COVID-19. 

With Mother’s Day on the horizon and as the days become warmer, IERHA has been receiving requests from residents and family members wishing to resume visiting with personal care home residents and hospital patients. IERHA is providing this guidance to help members of the public better understand options available for connecting with loved ones.

Connecting with personal care home residents
IERHA’s long term care program, in concert with long term care across the province, has not been permitting physically distanced visitation outside. This includes in-person visits and visits through open windows. In addition, for their own safety and that of the others, residents in personal care homes are still unable to go on walks or other community outings.  

If people wish to connect with someone in a long term care facility, they can contact the facility’s recreation department to discuss options available including sending emails, phone calls and virtual visiting. Please note, in some facilities, recreation staff are only available Monday to Friday so please ensure any visitation requests are made in advance if possible. 

“Recreation staff are working hard to create a sense of normalcy for residents in our long term care facilities to make Mother’s day special for residents across the region. We are setting up calls to residents from family and friends, printing and delivering emails for residents and organizing activities that align with physical distancing requirements,” says Lori Martin, recreation director for Interlake-Eastern RHA. “Recreation facilitators have also sent family members pictures of residents with messages  written on whiteboards. It’s very heartwarming!”

It is known that COVID-19 can be transmitted when close contact (less than two metres/six feet) occurs in a time period of ten minutes or more. In addition to physical distancing, where possible, to keep residents safe, there is currently no visitation or deliveries (including flowers) allowed in personal care homes. Staff-led recreation programming is limited to resident groups of no more than 10. Staff are receiving enhanced education on COVID-19 infection prevention and control protocols, they are being screened for symptoms of illness when reporting to work and staff in personal care homes are now permitted to work at only one facility in efforts to prevent infection transmission. 

Connecting with hospital patients
For families with loved ones in hospital, the RHA has a “Thinking of You” online central messaging centre where messages can be sent online and conveyed to loved ones. Visit https://is.gd/ThinkingofYou. You can also call the hospital and discuss the best way to communicate with patients. 

IERHA recognizes that visiting restrictions currently in place are challenging and hard on everyone. Health care providers appreciate your ongoing support and understanding as everyone works together to connect while still providing protection to people who are vulnerable to illness. Thank you for helping everyone look out for each other’s health and wellbeing.
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