We are taking precautions at the Middlesex Hospital Alliance (MHA) to ensure the safety of our patients, families, caregivers and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. Updates will be shared frequently to ensure everyone has the information required to remain safe.

On February 17, 2022, the Ontario government resumed the steps to reopening. While changes may be implemented in a variety of public settings they do not apply to hospitals. Hospitals are a high risk setting. Screening, masking and vaccine mandates will remain in place and be enforced.

As healthcare leaders, we need to do everything possible to continue to safeguard our patients, families, communities and those who provide their care.

Please visit the Province of Ontario’s dedicated COVID-19 webpage  to help educate yourself about COVID-19, including how you can protect yourself and what to do if you suspect you may be at risk.  Please select from the menu below:

COVID-19 Information

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Symptoms of COVID-19 range from very mild to more serious. They may vary between age groups

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 include:
• new or worsening cough
• shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
• temperature equal to or more than 38°C and / or chills
• new loss of smell or taste

Other symptoms might include:
• fatigue or weakness
• muscle or body aches
• nausea, vomiting and/ or diarrhea

Less common symptoms include:
• sore throat
• runny or stuffy nose
• headache
• pink eye
• abdominal pain
• no appetite

How can I protect myself?

1. Get vaccinated against Covid 19
2. Avoid contact with people who are sick.
3. Social distance and avoid crowds.
4. Wear a mask and maintain a distance of 6 feet from people outside of your household.
5. Wash your hands frequently.
6. Get tested if you develop symptoms

 

Visitation Policy during COVID

Current process and visitor restrictions

Please note: Everyone who enters the hospital must participate in the mandatory screening process, wear a hospital-issued mask and sanitize their hands. This includes individuals (patients, staff and essential visitors) who have been vaccinated.

As provincial restrictions ease, MHA is supporting increased flexibility for visitor presence. Unfortunately, we are unable to permit purely social visits at this time.

  • All inpatients will be allowed up to four care partners per day.
    • A care partner is an individual who provides physical or emotional support .Care partners may or may not be family members. Up to date vaccination against Covid 19 is encouraged but not required.
    • A care partner may visit once per day between the hours of 12:00 and 8:00 pm.
    • Care partners must come one at a time and visits should be limited to one hour and once per day when possible. Care partners may only visit one patient. Waiting areas are not available in hospital so care partners should coordinate visits.
    • Care partners must pass screening and adhere to infection prevention protocols including masking and distancing.
    • Care partner presence will not be permitted when the patient is on isolation precautions. Exceptions may be requested through Patient Relations. When an exception is made, care partners will be required to comply with PPE requirements and acknowledge risk.
  • Virtual visits are available at patient or care partner request through the nursing unit. Patients may ask their nurse and care partners may organize by calling the nursing unit.
  • Patients attending the Emergency Department will be allowed one care partner to stay with them during their visit. Should the patient be admitted, inpatient guidance applies. Due to space limitations, care partners may be asked to wait in their vehicle or an alternate waiting area at the request of staff.
  • Patients attending for Diagnostic Imaging or for an Outpatient Appointment may have one care partner accompany them. Due to space limitations, care partners may be asked to wait elsewhere at the request of staff. Diabetic patients may bring their own food and drink to their appointment. Please ask a staff member for a safe place to remove your mask and consume your snack.
  • Spiritual Care Providers: Spiritual care providers must pass screening, wear appropriate PPE at all times and limit their limit visit to one person. Spiritual care providers are not counted as a care partner.
  • Special Circumstances:
  • Critical Conversations: MHA supports care partner presence for critical conversations. Approval for care partners to attend at same time can be obtained through the unit manager.
  • Compassionate Presence:
  • Palliative Patients imminently progressing toward end-of-life who have a PPS scale assessment of equal to or less than 30% or Patients receiving Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD)

MHA supports up to four fully vaccinated family / essential care partner(s) to be present 24/7 where the patient is receiving palliative care. There may be restrictions at bedside based on space available.  Additional family will be approved on a case by case basis by the unit manager during business hours (manager on call outside of business hours) in consultation with Infection Prevention and Control and family/essential care partner(s).  Multiple factors are considered including availability of palliative care room, unit activity, patient clinical status, care partner compliance and staffing. Family/care partners must stay in patient room or designated spaces.

  • Enabling care: MHA supports care partner presence to enable care.  Patients with developmental or intellectual disability, or those requiring assistance with interpretation or translation may have increased care partner presence at the discretion of the unit manager.
  • Enabling Safety: MHA supports extended care partner presence to encourage patient safety for patients who are children, experiencing a mental health crisis or experiencing cognitive impairment. Increased care partner presence is at the discretion of the unit manager.
  • Labouring Mothers: MHA supports one or two care partners to support a patient during the birthing process.  Labour support persons may bring food and drink for their own consumption. They will follow the direction of the nurse for a safe place to remove their mask and have their snack.

Requesting an Exception: The Manager or delegate of the unit or department where the patient is receiving care will review clinical exceptions in consultation with the Infection Prevention and Control Team and the care partner.

Concerns may be expressed through Patient Relations by telephone at (519) 245-5295 ext. 5594 or by email at patientrelations@mha.tvh.ca.  A response will be provided on the next business day. In an urgent situation, please request the unit manager (or manager on call if after business hours).

Guidelines for Care Partners:

  • Care partners will be screened prior to entry
  • Care partners who fail screening will NOT be permitted to enter the hospital
  • Care partners must perform diligent hand hygiene and wear a hospital-provided mask at all time
  • Care partners must wear additional personal protective equipment if requested by staff
  • All visits will be with the same individual, exceptions will be made based on a case-by-case basis
  • Care partner presence is limited to one visit per care partner excluding palliative care, or obstetrics, or at the discretion of manager
  • If able, the patient should wear a hospital approved mask during the visit.
  • Patients in a multi-bed room will have curtains pulled around them when the care partner is present. The care partner will stay within the curtained area.

Care Partners should NOT come to the hospital if they:

  • Are feeling unwell-even with very mild symptoms
  • Have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 10 days
  • Have been tested for COVID-19 with results pending (or unresolved)
  • Have had close contact with a confirmed or suspect case of COVID-19 in the past 10 days

Care partners must follow infection prevention and control guidelines as directed at all times while at the hospital. Masks are mandatory and provided by the hospital for the duration of time spent at the hospital.

Spiritual Care Providers

A spiritual care provider is permitted on patient/ family/staff request for support of in-patients. Spiritual care providers must pass screening, wear appropriate PPE at all times and limit their limit visit to one person. Spiritual care visits for patients on precautions must be approved on a case by case basis by the unit manager during business hours (manager on call outside of business hours) in consultation with Infection Prevention and Control. Spiritual care providers will be required to acknowledge risk and comply with PPE requirements.

Expectations While In Hospital

  • Perform hand hygiene when entering and upon leaving the patient room
    • Stay in the loved one’s room until during the visit.
    • Sit in chair provided and not on patient’s bed.
    • Not use the patient washroom. Public washrooms are available; inquire with the unit where the patient is receiving care for locations.
  • Not provide assistance/care for other patients.
    • Not leave the unit for smoking / vaping or other purposes. If they choose to leave the hospital, they will be unable to return until the following day. Exceptions made for palliative patients.
    • Not linger in hallways or spend extended time in public/common areas. Public washrooms are open and cafeteria seating areas are open (subject to availability).

Guidelines for Visitors

  • Please wash your hands or use the available liquid sanitizer when entering and exiting the hospital and on entering and exiting the patient room.
  • Do not visit if you are ill or have been in contact with a person with a contagious illness (e.g. respiratory illness with fever, colds, chicken pox, flu) in the past 10 days.
  • Help us maintain a Scent Free environment. Please do not bring strongly scented flowers or use heavily scented body products (e.g. perfumes, lotion) when visiting.
  • Do not bring latex balloons.
  • The Hospital is a Smoke Free Environment. Anyone wishing to smoke will be required to leave the Hospital property.

Food and Personal Items for Patients

• Care partner may not bring food or beverages for personal consumption into a patient room or in patient care areas.
• Meals, snacks and beverages are available in designated areas.
• If bringing food for a patient, food containers must be disposed of or taken home when leaving. There is no location to store leftovers.
• Diabetic patients may bring their own food and drink to their appointment. Please consult with a staff member for a safe place to remove your mask and consume your snack.

To maintain Infection Prevention and Control standards and the safety of our staff and patients, please bring only the listed items below to the hospital for patients.
• glasses, hearing aids and dentures
• mobility items (canes, walkers, wheelchairs)
• new toiletries only
• new grooming items – toothbrushes, combs and hair brushes
• personal items- books, magazines, puzzle books, family photos etc.
• mobile phone/tablet,
• clean clothing and footwear

Please direct requests for special items to the Manager of the Unit where the patient is receiving care

Active Screening

Access into the hospital is limited to the following entrances:

Strathroy Middlesex General Hospital: the Main entrance and Emergency, the Emergency remains open 24/7.

Four Counties Health Services:  Emergency, the Emergency remains open 24/7.

Screeners actively screen all patients, approved visitors, and staff upon entry at all entrances by asking questions about:

  • Symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing, sore throat, muscle aches, diarrhea, abdominal pain)
  • Contact with a confirmed or probable COVID-19 patient
  • Testing- if you are waiting for results of a COVID-19 test
  • Vaccine status against COVID-19

Visitors who fail the screen are not permitted to enter.

Unvaccinated individuals are allowed entry only under specific circumstances

What steps are Middlesex Hospital Alliance taking to keep patients, visitors and staff safe?

MHA has coordinated prevention activities to align with recommendations from Public Health Ontario, Ontario Ministry of Health, Ontario Health and Regional Pandemic Advisory Boards. These include;

  • Controlled entry points and perimeter screening to assess for the presence of COVID-19 symptoms and identified exposure risks for everyone who enters our facilities.
  • Increased hand hygiene stations
  • Adoption of masking/facial covering policy
  • Placement of physical barriers, e.g. PlexiglasTM , stanchions
  • Enhanced signage to promote hand hygiene, masking, and physical distancing
  • Incorporated alternative ways to provide care in a safe manner, e.g. virtual or remote appointments
  • Updated visitor policies
  • Adhered to a slow and measured resumption of services

Universal Masking

Middlesex Hospital Alliance requires all outpatients, visitors, caregivers to wear a mask for the duration of your time at both of our hospital sites.

Why are patients and care partners being asked to wear masks at Middlesex Hospital Alliance?

Physical distancing, or staying more than two metres (six feet) apart from others is the most important strategy to prevent the spread of COVID-19 from person to person. Some people who have COVID-19 may not have symptoms but can still spread the virus without knowing. Because we cannot guarantee physical distancing at all times, we require all patients and care partners wear a mask upon entry so we can keep everyone safe.

What type of mask is allowed?

Level 1 Procedural Masks are allowed for all patients and visitors entering either of our hospital sites. Patients and visitors are asked to remove any cloth masks, perform hand hygiene and put on a Level 1 procedural mask, provided by the hospital. Patients and visitors who do not wish to remove their own mask will be permitted to place the hospital Level 1 procedural mask over their own mask after they performed proper hand hygiene.

When should I wear a mask?

Please leave your mask on the entire time you are inside the hospital. If you need to take it off to eat or drink, or as part of your medical appointment, first wash your hands and then remove your mask carefully, without touching your face

Do inpatients have to wear masks?

Inpatients are not required to wear masks, unless they have COVID-19 or are suspected of having COVID-19.

What if I refuse to wear a mask?

You will not be allowed within any MHA hospital site to visit or provide assistance for your loved one if you refuse to wear a mask.

You will not be allowed to attend any scheduled procedures if you refuse to wear a mask.

You will be asked to leave by our MHA screening staff.

COVID Vaccination

For information on COVID-19 Vaccination eligibility and  information on booking system  please visit the Middlesex-London Health Unit website:

https://www.healthunit.com/covid-19-vaccine-eligibility

MHA COVID-19 Vaccination policy

On August 17, 2021, the Ontario government issued Directive #6. This directive affects COVID-19 immunizations and workplace policies for individuals employed in hospitals.

As healthcare leaders, we need to do everything possible to continue to safeguard our patients, families, communities and those who provide their care.

Middlesex Hospital Alliance has implemented a progressive plan to stage in mandatory vaccinations to ensure that all Middlesex Hospital Alliance “Workers” (MHA employees, physicians and credentialed staff, students, contracted staff/affiliates who regularly work on site) volunteers and tenants are fully vaccinated. We have introduced a COVID-19 Vaccination Policy which requires that all MHA workers be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by November 29th, 2021.

COVID-19 Vaccination Receipts
Do you need a copy of your COVID-19 Vaccination Receipt?
Many people are looking for an electronic or print copy of their COVID-19 vaccination receipt now that the Ontario government has announced vaccination passports are required for certain indoor settings as of September 22.

With your postal code and green Ontario health card, you can print or download your receipt at https://covid19.ontariohealth.ca.  If you have a red and white health card or no health card, call 1-833-943-3900.

Many people don’t have printers at home. If you do, please consider printing for a neighbour or family member who needs assistance. You can also print at local libraries, and some large retailers such as Staples.

Preparing for your Surgery

Ensuring the safety of our patients and staff is a top priority. We recognize the added stress of the COVID-19 Pandemic may have you feeling more anxious about your upcoming surgery or procedure.

Please be assured that our routine diligent infection prevention measures are in place as well as additional pandemic measures in accordance with recommendations to hospitals by the Ontario Ministry of Health.

Change to Preoperative Covid Testing for Elective Procedures and Surgery – Effective January 10, 2022

Due to high levels of community transmission, all patients undergoing elective procedures or surgery will require pre-operative COVID-19 testing.  A 10 day self-isolation (except for essential reasons) will be required. Testing will be arranged when your procedure is booked or through the pre-admit appointment.

Please refer to the Preparing for Surgery During a Pandemic – Patient Handbook

Assesment:

There may be times when additional assessment of your health may be required. Be assured, this does not mean your surgery will not take place. It’s recognized that patients who have infection at the time of their surgery are at greater risk of developing complications during their health care journey. Your safety is very important to us. Please provide us with thorough and accurate information.

Vaccination

Covid vaccine reduces the risk of Covid-19 infection. We encourage all patients and visitors to get vaccinated against Covid -19. If you have had your second dose of Covid vaccine more than 14 days before your surgery you will be considered fully vaccinated

Self-Isolation

• We encourage all patients to limit social activities for 10 days prior to surgery.

• If you are fully vaccinated be prepared to show proof of vaccination. Fully vaccinated means you have received your second dose (or booster dose if required) more than 14 days before your surgery.

• If you have been asked to obtain a COVID-19 swab before your surgery, you must adhere to strict social isolation practices from the time of your swab to your scheduled procedure.
If you are not able to maintain strict social isolation practices from the time of your swab to the day of your surgery, your surgery will be rescheduled

Please refer to Public Health Ontario Fact Sheet on Self-Isolation formation.  

To ensure the health and safety of all staff, physicians and patients at MHA, please follow the guidance provided when preparing for your surgery and on the date of your procedure.

Support Persons/Visitors
During this time we are required to limit the number of people coming to the hospital. If you need assistance or support the day of your procedure, please ensure that only one person who is fully vaccinated, free of symptoms and who has not been exposed to COVID -19 accompanies you to the hospital. Fully vaccinated means that your support person received their second dose of Covid vaccine more than 14 days before your surgery.
Our visitor policies are evolving. Please refer to our website visitation policy.

At the Hospital
• Everyone entering the hospital must be screened for COVID-19 symptoms and exposure risk
• Be prepared to show proof of Vaccination against Covid -19
• You will be asked to perform hand hygiene
• Everyone entering the hospital must wear a mask. The mask must remain on at all times unless you are directed by a healthcare worker to remove or replace it.
o Perform hand hygiene before putting on your mask
o Make sure the mask covers your mouth and nose
o Do not touch the front of the mask. If you do, perform hand hygiene.
o Remove the mask by handling the ties or ear loops only. Disposable masks should be discarded. Reusable masks can be placed into a clean paper bag.
o Perform hand hygiene again, once you have removed your mask

 

 

Preparing for your Outpatient visit

There are limitations to the number of people in areas of the hospital. Please help us all stay safe.

  • If you are able to come to your appointment unattended, please do so. Please refer to the Visitation Policy for family and essential care partners. If a support persons is required to assist please choose an asymptomatic fully vaccinated support person to attend with you. If you require more than 1 support person,exceptions must be requested and will be assessed on a case by case basis in consultation with your health care provider prior to the day of your appointment.
  • Please ensure you arrive for your appointment at the time provided. If you are early, you may be asked to wait before you are able to enter the facility.
  • On arrival, you (and your approved family/essential care partner) will be asked questions about symptoms you may be experiencing or exposures to the virus you may have had. These questions may be asked at multiple points during your visit.
  • Everyone must perform hand hygiene when entering and prior to exiting the facility
  • Facial protection that adequately covers the nose and mouth is required by everyone entering the building. If you choose not to wear facial protection, your elective outpatient appointment will be rescheduled or cancelled.
  • Waiting room space is limited due to physical distancing requirements. If you are a support person meeting the requirements, waiting space will be provided. Additional persons may be requested to find an alternative waiting location external to the hospital building.
  • Follow signs and practice physical distancing

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