Ottawa bans window visits at city-run long-term care homes
In-person socializing, even when visitor is outside, puts people at risk, says city
- Mayor Jim Watson has directed staff to come up with a plan to reinstate the visits by May 7.
The City of Ottawa is cracking down on families visiting loved ones on the grounds of four city-run long-term care homes during the pandemic.
Long-term care homes in Ontario have been restricting visitors since March, but many people have been going to the homes to visit at windows or to hold up signs for loved ones.
Ottawa's director of long-term care said in a statement to CBC they have to err on the side of caution and stop this from happening.
"This difficult decision to limit these visitors to the exterior grounds of the homes is based on prioritizing the safety and health of residents and staff," said Dean Lett, director of long-term care at the City of Ottawa.
He said more residents are going outside now that warmer weather has arrived.
"We have experienced a number of situations where families have visited and have not respected the requirement for physical distancing as directed through public health agencies."
- Families worried about restricted access at long-term care homes
- 'Something is bound to break': More long-term care staff needed, families say
The city runs the Garry J. Armstrong, Peter D. Clark, Carleton Lodge and Champlain homes.
On Tuesday, the city confirmed an employee at the Peter D. Clark centre tested positive for COVID-19, the fourth positive staff test at one of its care homes.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Ottawa Public Health's report on institution cases did not list any resident cases.
Virtual meetings encouraged
Lett said he understands the difficulties families are facing and said the homes are using extra staff and technology resources to help set up digital meetings, phone calls and letter delivery.
"With the effects that we have seen the virus have on long-term care homes across the country, we have a responsibility to do everything possible to minimize the risks of COVID-19 from entering the homes," Lett said
He encouraged families to reach out to staff at the homes to set up those virtual meetings.
Some Ottawa city councillors want the ban reversed, while others say it's necessary.
It doesn't make any sense to ban window visits while you're practicing social distancing. <a href="https://t.co/d3qrpHYjG1">https://t.co/d3qrpHYjG1</a>—@GeorgeDarouze
For those with advance chronic conditions coordination for window visit must be accommodated and scheduled.<br><br>City has 4 homes with over 700 residents.<br><br>Many are also connected through tech tools with family member.<br><br>Tough situation for all, yet current approaches work.—@MathieuFleury