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'Care partners' now allowed to visit around the clock at Thunder Bay hospital

Provides patients and families with added comfort
Executive vice-president Rhonda Crocker Ellacott

THUNDER BAY – The regional hospital is now allowing visitors around the clock as long as they are classified as care partners.

After patient consultation, officials with the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre decided to provide 24-7 access to patient care partners.

Executive vice-president Rhonda Crocker Ellacott said the added hours will provide patients with the extra care they need.

“We engaged with our patient family advisor here at the hospital and asked them what they believed they want to see as a family member and as a patient in our facility,” Ellacott said.

“They said very strongly that they believe there should be visiting hours for people who would be (care-partners) of a patient within our hospital.”

Ellacott added the hospital staff would support those selected as the most important to them and provide them with the full access.

The slight change will ensure patients have their family members there to help with physical care, psychological care or emotional care depending on what the patient needs.

She said it provides both the patient and family added comfort knowing they are there to frequently support one another through difficult times.

The comfort of the patients was one of the main reasons for not allowing full access to all visitors.

“We wanted to make sure we maintain the comfort, quiet and rest for the patients while they are in the (hospital),” she said.

“We really looked at what would be necessary, what the patient needs, what the patients wants and what we are able to accommodate.”

Ellacott stated recently they haven’t done a good job of expressing to the community that there’s a difference between visitors and care partners, so they want to remind everyone there are differences in terms of policies and practices for care partners and those visiting.

The number of care partners a patient can have depends on “where you are in your journey.”

If you are palliative it may be different compared to someone who is coming out of surgery and just needs someone to support them physically throughout the night as well as whether you are in a private, semi-private or a public ward.

“The environment makes a difference as well as your personal needs and we need to balance those off one another.”

Ellacott realized many patients weren’t aware they can have 24-7 access by a care partner, so the hospital is looking toward doing a better job of educating both staff and patients.

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Nicole Dixon

About the Author: Nicole Dixon

Born and raised in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Nicole moved to Thunder Bay, Ontario in 2008 to pursue a career in journalism. Nicole joined in 2015 as a multimedia producer, content developer and reporter.
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