When Dan Chabot went to visit his wife Susan at her long-term care home facility in South Woodslee Saturday morning, he was stunned to be told he was not allowed inside the building.
This comes after Ontario's chief medical officer of health urged all long-term care homes in the province to allow only essential visitors into their facilities until further notice.
Dr. David Williams issued a memo on Friday to long-term care homes, retirement homes, supportive housing and hospices.
"In order to ensure a safe and secure environment for residents, we strongly recommend that these settings only allow essential visitors until further notice," Williams said in the memo.
Essential visitors are defined by the Ontario health ministry as people who are visiting a resident who is dying or very ill, or a parent or guardian of an ill child or young person in a residential treatment setting.
'She's going to go bonkers'
But Chabot, who lives in McGregor, says he was not informed of the policy change until he arrived at Country Village Homes to visit his wife and was turned away.
"It's asinine," he said, worried about what social isolation could mean for people living in the home.
Chabot, who would usually visit the home every day, worries about how his wife is going to handle this change.
"She's going to go bonkers," he said.
"She'll survive, but she's not going to be happy. She's going to have probably severe depression over this."
He added that his wife doesn't have a phone in her room, so he has yet to figure out how to best reach her moving forward.
Health is number one priority, spokesperson says
A representative for Southbridge Care Homes Long-Term Care and Retirement Homes in Ontario — which includes Country Village Homes — confirms that all of their homes have implemented an essential-visitors-only policy.
"We recognize that this is a significant change for our residents and for caregivers," Vice-President of Communications Richard Franzke wrote in an e-mailed statement.
"The health and well-being of all, including our long-term care residents, their families, and staff, is our number one priority."
He added that all essential visitors will need to be actively screened before entering their homes.
Franzke said the homes will continue to follow directives from the Ministry of Health and re-evaluate the measure in the coming weeks.
But Chabot is left feeling angry that he wasn't given more warning of the policy change, and feeling uneasy about how long this will last.
He said that if the policy continues for some time, he'll consider taking his wife out of the facility, and bringing her home.