REGINA -- The Saskatchewan Health authority is expanding visitation for “compassionate reasons” at its facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The SHA established a Family Presence Expert Panel with patient and family advisors, along with public health and Infection Prevention and Control experts, to provide guidance on recommendations to support family presence during COVID-19,” the health authority said in a news release.

New inclusions to these guidelines can be used immediately. These include:

  • Quality of life considerations for residents of long term care to determine how vital support from designated family members or support people are. Two family members or support people can be designated.
  • All critical care and intensive care patients, limited to those at a high risk for loss of life
  • Family presence for palliative care expanded to two family members
  • Guideline revisions to ensure clarity that there can be one family member for inpatient, outpatient and emergency care patients with specific challenges which result in compromised comprehension.
  • Outdoor visits not limited to one person at a time

“Decision tools have been created for care teams to assist with knowing when a patient or long term care resident can have a family member or support person with them in person. This includes ensuring clear guidelines for designated family members or support people to follow such as screening, hand hygiene, and limited movement within a site,” the news release said.

All family members and support people will be supplied with masks.

“I cant stress enough that this is not a return to normal, but our new normal,” SHA CEO Scott Livingstone said.

Health officials say that family members can use additional testing criteria to help ensure their safety while visiting SHA facilities.