Bluewater Health is phasing out the carry program

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When visitors to Lambton hospitals were more limited amid COVID-19, Bluewater Health hired people to help guide patients through hallways and wards who needed assistance with mobility, language translation or who had cognitive barriers, said the hospital group’s communications chief.

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When visitors to Lambton hospitals were more limited amid COVID-19, Bluewater Health hired people to help guide patients who needed assistance with mobility, language translation, or who had cognitive barriers through hallways and wards, said the hospital group’s communications chief.

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COVID 19-specific dollars funded this carry program to fill gaps as people’s loved ones were kept out of hospitals in a bid to help curb the spread of the virus and disease, said Keith Marnoch.

Amid low COVID-19 numbers in recent weeks, the easing of visitation restrictions — to two at a time per patient starting June 22 — and the end of that pandemic funding stream, the carry program is being phased out, Marnoch said.

Waiting room upgrades are underway and should be complete by the end of July, he said, giving more space for people to sit as plus-ones for outpatient appointments have recently been lit green.

In the early days of the pandemic, seating capacity in hospital waiting rooms was reduced, and the planned changes are essentially restoring capacity to what it once was, Marnoch said.

No estimate of the cost of this work was immediately available.

“A lot of that basically comes back to normal,” Marnoch said. “That’s where we are.”

There were eight people working as porters each day for the duration of the program, he said.

The total number of people employed through the portering program was not available, as many also tested and tested for COVID-19 at Bluewater Health during the pandemic, Marnoch said.

“We certainly know it was popular with people. People liked it,” he said of the program. He noted that there had been some reaction to the recent announcement of its phasing out.

“But at the same time, there are just as many people who feel reassured to be with someone they know” when they come to the hospital, he said.

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Hospitalized patients can have a total of four registered visitors, and up to two at a time, hospital officials said in a recent news release, noting that visiting hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. day.

“In order to maintain the safety of patients and staff, it is important to note that current practices may change or revert, depending on the level of risk of transmission as determined by the (infection prevention and control) committee. and provincial recommendations,” the statement said.

Bluewater Health reported no hospitalized patients with confirmed COVID-19 on Monday.

Lambton’s latest public health surveillance report, dated June 29, indicated that an average of five COVID-19 cases per day had been reported locally in the previous seven days.

No active outbreaks have been reported.

The agency has reported 12,009 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began in March 2020 and 146 deaths.

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