Nova Scotia

Visitor restrictions easing at Nova Scotia hospitals

Some patients can be accompanied into the hospital after the IWK Health Centre and Nova Scotia Health Authority announced changes to strict visitation rules.

2 people allowed to be with a child admitted to IWK

The initial rules meant some families were separated because only one parent could stay with a child in the IWK. (Brian MacKay/CBC)

Cancer patients, women in labour and people in palliative care are among those who will be allowed additional people for support after the Nova Scotia Health Authority and IWK Health Centre announced changes to strict visitation rules. 

Hospitals across the province banned nearly all visitors at the beginning of the pandemic.

Those initial changes went against a family–centred approach to care in order to prevent COVID-19 from spreading in the hospitals.

At the IWK, the rules limited pediatric patients to one parent or guardian with them during their stay. Now, two people are allowed to be with a child who has been admitted to the hospital.

Women in labour can also have two people by their side. 

The IWK is letting patients have one support person for the following situations:

  • pediatric appointments.
  • day surgery.
  • emergency department situations.
  • early labour.
Patients in palliative care or receiving medical assistance in dying can now have two people by their side. (Richard Lyons/Shutterstock)

As for the province's other hospitals, the NSHA is applying the two-person rule to those in palliative care or for those who are receiving medical assistance in dying.

"We know that the restrictions have been difficult for patients and families," the health authority wrote in a statement. 

"The criteria for who is eligible for these visits has not changed."

The NSHA further stated it was forced to balance the benefits of having more caregivers in the facility against the increased risk of spreading the virus.

"With both those things in mind, we will be lifting restrictions gradually where it is feasible and safe to do so within public health guidelines."

Cancer patients previously had to be alone for their appointments unless they were getting an initial diagnosis. Now, they can bring one person with them.

The NSHA will also allow one support person if patients are:

  • in critical care.
  • some emergency situations.
  • being discharged.

Those with significant cognitive or physical disabilities might also be allowed to bring someone with them, but that will be determined on a case–by–case basis.

The IWK says everyone will still be screened for COVID-19 at the entrance. All other visitors will continue to be turned away.