Northern Health is allowing only essential visits to its facilities and implementing new measures to protect seniors in care, such as those living at the Dunrovin Park Lodge complex care facility. (Lindsay Chung - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)

COVID-19: Northern Health tightens visitor restrictions

Changes are also being made to protect seniors in care

Northern Health (NH) is updating its visitor restrictions to further limit the number of people coming in and out of its facilities as it works to respond to COVID-19.

“Northern Health is working in partnership with the Ministry of Health and B.C. Centre for Disease Control to respond to COVID-19,” the health authority states in a March 23 news release. “The situation is evolving quickly and our strategies are evolving to keep people in the communities we serve safe. To support the Provincial Health Officer’s directions around social distancing and protect our residents, patients and staff from the transmission of COVID-19, Northern Health has made the difficult decision to allow only essential visits to our facilities.”

Essential visits will be considered for patients who are critically ill, receiving end-of-life care or are frail and need an escort or family member for their safety.

Eligible essential visitors must pass important screening criteria. This means they cannot have a cough, runny nose, fever, sore throat or shortness of breath, and they cannot have travelled outside of Canada in the last 14 days.

“We understand the importance of visits from family and loved ones to our patients and long-term care residents, and we appreciate your understanding and support in helping to keep everyone safe,” states Northern Health.

On March 23, NH also provided more information about the changes it is making to protect seniors receiving care.

To protect those most vulnerable and to address anticipated pressures on the acute care system, due to COVID-19, the Ministry of Health advises health authorities to temporarily suspend inter-facility transfers, except in circumstances of intolerable risk, until further notice and ensure clients’ place on the wait list for transfer is maintained during the suspension of transfers. As well, the ministry advises health authorities to prioritize admissions to Long Term Care from acute care over those from community where possible, to temporarily suspend all health authority-operated/funded Home and Community Care (HCC) adult day programs and to temporarily suspend the provision of in-facility respite, except in circumstances of intolerable risk.

“Northern Health is implementing these measures at long-term care facilities across the region and for NH-funded adult day programs,” the health authority stated. “Most people who become infected with COVID-19 will experience a mild illness that will not require medical care, but seniors are at a higher risk of serious illness.”

NH advises that resident and family questions or concerns should be addressed to the appropriate facility manager.

“We also want to reduce visits to long-term care homes, and only essential visits are recommended,” according to Northern Health. “This includes visits for compassionate care (end of life and critical illness) and visits considered essential to resident care and well-being.”

For accurate and current COVID-19 information, NH encourages residents to visit the B.C. Centre for Disease Control website at and to check back regularly, as the information is being updated frequently.

READ MORE: Northern Health establishes COVID-19 Online Clinic and Information Line

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