How those from outside the Atlantic bubble can now visit a dying loved one on P.E.I.

·2 min read

As COVID-19 cases in the rest of Canada continue to rise dramatically, P.E.I. is changing some of its rules.

The province's revised COVID-19 pandemic visitor and compassionate ground visitation protocol is expected to come into effect next week, and will apply both to public and private facilities on P.E.I., a statement to CBC News from P.E.I.'s Health System Joint Response Team said Friday.

"These protocols are intended to ensure Islanders and their loved ones residing outside Atlantic Canada can have meaningful time together during these significant times in their lives," the statement said.

"They also balance the need to limit the risk of spread of COVID-19 on P.E.I. and in particular in health care facilities."

The protocol lays out a long list of conditions, however.

  • Visitors need pre-approval from both P.E.I.'s Office of Public Safety and from the health facility they plan to visit.

  • The patient's doctor or nurse practitioner must confirm they are dying.

  • Visitors must test negative for COVID-19 before their first visit, and must be tested twice more within 12 days: between days 4-7 and 10-12.

  • Visitors have to self-isolate when they're not with the patient.

  • Visits will be during a specified time frame, and visitors will need to wear full personal protective equipment including a gown, gloves and mask.

  • Patients will need to be the only one in their room if they have a visitor from outside the Atlantic bubble.

The statement said patients being actively treated for a life-threatening illness which may end their life will be considered for compassionate visits from those outside the Atlantic provinces.

The administrators of facilities being visited will have to write a letter to the Office of Public Safety designating the visitor permission to visit the facility.

'We welcome it'

P.E.I. Seniors Homes CEO Jason Lee says it's a "big move."

"We welcome it. We think the Chief Public Health Office has put together a policy that really does balance safety with a family's need to be together at this time," Lee said. "So we welcome it and we'll certainly be making the homes available to compassionate visitors."

Travis Kingdon/CBC
Travis Kingdon/CBC

However the spread of COVID-19 in Canada and especially outside the Atlantic bubble is concerning, he said.

"We will be taking greater precautions," he said. Staff will be taking time to teach visitors how to properly don and doff the PPE, which will take time and effort.

If the visitor leaves the Atlantic bubble and returns, they will have to restart the testing process from the beginning, the statement noted.

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