June 18, 2020

Dear Families:

The entire staff and leadership at St. Joseph’s Health Centre Guelph recognizes how difficult these last few months have been for families of residents and patients. You have been away from loved ones for a long time and are deeply concerned for your loved ones at our health centre.

The Ministry of Long-Term Care announced last week the resumption of family visits in long-term care homes starting today. While the Directive applies to long-term care homes, as we have done with previous directions, SJHCG is applying the criteria to all programs at our health centre.

The intent of the Ministry of Long-Term Care for implementing the outdoor family visits was a gradual, phased resumption of visits guided by principles of safety, emotional well-being and flexibility. We understand that this gradual approach was not communicated clearly to families and that there is confusion about what this means specifically for St. Joseph’s.

We introduced outdoor visits at St. Joseph’s about three weeks ago. The Family Conversation Centre is a welcoming and inviting space that helps to maintain privacy and to ensure safety during family visits. The Ministry announcement has entailed some changes to SJHCG’s outdoor visits, including a requirement for family members to attest to having had a negative COVID-19 test result within 2 weeks of visiting.

Another expectation set out in the Ministry announcement is that family members will be able to visit their loved ones in long-term care once a week. However, there are many factors required to make this possible and the facility must be able to meet the requirements. While it is our goal to be able to facilitate these weekly visits, we are not able to schedule visits with this frequency right now.

We are building capacity so we can have more visits. There are many elements we need to have in place in order to increase our capacity such as a safe space, pre-visit screening, staff to support transporting residents and patients to/from units, facilitation for the visits, cleaning and disinfecting the space after the visit, and equitable access to the visits. Our team is working to set up an additional Family Conversation Centre outside the north entrance.

We realize the situation is not ideal, but we have managed the challenges posed by COVID-19 and helped ensure the safety of our residents and patients. We will continue to prioritize safety as the province moves toward the recovery phase. We know we need to remain vigilant and continue to follow the advice from public health authorities to continue to ensure those who are most vulnerable to COVID-19 remain safe.

At this time, not all residents have received a visit from their family and we need to take an equitable approach and prioritize residents who have not had a first visit before we move to scheduling second, third and more visits.

We realize that some families are considering going to get a COVID-19 test proactively so that you are ready to have a visit scheduled. We ask that you do not get a test to meet this requirement until you receive a call from our health centre about scheduling your visit. You will have plenty of time to get your test and receive the results before your visit date.

We realize families have many questions about the family visits and our team is working on a Frequently Asked Question document to help answer your questions.

Finally, I want to ask that you remember to be kind to our staff. We realize the separation has been very difficult and you want to see your loved one. Our staff are working hard to make these visits a pleasant experience for families and clients alike.

We are looking forward to facilitating visits to your loved one at our health centre and to seeing families at St. Joseph’s once again.


David Wormald

2020.06.18 – Letter to Families re Visiting (Final)