The mayor is about to restore window visits in full response


Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson tweeted Thursday that he had asked city staff to come up with a plan to restore “window visits” for loved ones in city-run long-term care homes – often their only means of contact, as many establishments remain closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Watson said he had asked city staff to work with Ottawa Public Health to put in place a plan by May 7 that respects the rules of physical distance.

Premier Doug Ford also weighed in on the window restriction Thursday afternoon, calling it “ridiculous.”

“I try to be politically correct, but I am generally not politically correct. It’s ridiculous … I don’t know who came up with this ridiculous idea, but they have to rethink it, “Ford said at a press conference. .

The reversal comes a day after the city’s director of long-term care told Radio-Canada that new limits would be placed on visitors to the city’s four facilities.

An email was sent Monday to families of residents of at least one long-term care home asking them to refrain from in-person visits.

“This difficult decision to limit these visitors to the outside grounds of the houses is based on the priority given to the safety and health of residents and staff,” Dean Lett said on Wednesday.

Lett said residents of the city’s four facilities are starting to move out now that the weather is warmer.

“We have known a number of situations where families have come and failed to meet the requirement for physical distance, as reported by public health agencies,” he said.

Visitors get too close

John McCormick, Chair of the Garry J. Armstrong Long-Term Care Home Family Council, said the policy change was prompted by reports of visitors approaching window screens too close or inviting residents to smoke outside to approach their vehicle.

“When it affects you, it sounds unfair, but I think the general public needs to understand that the result is the protection of all residents and staff,” said McCormick. “If this infection only affects one person, we know how quickly it can spread. “

Garry J. Armstrong has three confirmed cases of COVID-19 among staff, but none among residents. There is another confirmed case among the staff of Peter D. Clark.

McCormick said he believed the mayor’s response was genuine, but worried about what will happen if the rules are relaxed again.

“I do not know how practical it is that once you see your loved one in the state they are in, whether distressed or mentally distressed, it is very easy to forget [physical distancing] protocols, “said McCormick. Human fragility and emotions get in the way. ”

Municipal workers to help

Lett said 22 workers were transferred from other departments to help staff at city-owned facilities.

John McCormick, chairman of the Garry J. Armstrong long-term care home family council, said the policy change came after staff noticed that physical distance measurements were sometimes not followed. 1:05

“We invite them to come and work alongside our staff and to take additional training. These resources will be a key element in helping us connect our families and residents either through the window tour or via Skype via email over the phone, “Lett said Thursday.

“My heart goes out to our families and our residents. This is a truly unprecedented period, and that is not how we would like to work in partnership with our families and residents, “he said. “These decisions are not taken lightly. “

Confusion over new rules

In an interview before the mayor’s tweet, Rideau-Vanier Coun. Mathieu Fleury acknowledged that there was some confusion about the new rules.

“I did not see the original memo come out, but it should have been properly explained: our responsibilities, the number of facilities we operate and the measures we put in place,” said Fleury.

Fleury said the visiting policy is to protect residents who may have fresh air and exercise outside the facility. He said that the window visits meant that the outside lots of the houses were getting more and more occupied.

“We ask family members to call ahead and coordinate with the centers for these window visits,” said Fleury.

Coun. Mathieu Fleury says residents of Ottawa’s long-term care homes move out as the weather improves, leading to outdoor meetings with family members who visit the facility. 1:13

“It sounds easy when there is mobility for residents, but we have a lot of residents with very limited mobility and this requires coordination with our internal team, which is very busy at the moment. “

Fleury said staff are also trying to facilitate video calls with residents.

Seven hundred residents live in the city’s four long-term care homes. These houses include Garry J. Armstrong, Peter D. Clark, Carleton Lodge and Champlain.


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