Strict visitor measures at Canterbury hospitals as Covid-19 cases soar

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Jul 19, 2022 |

Canterbury hospitals and centres run by Te Whatu Ora Waitaha Canterbury (Formally the CDHB, before the Government changed the name) are tightening visitor restrictions and enforcing a ‘no mask, no entry’ policy.

Becky Hickmott, Incident Management Controller for the Omicron outbreak said “from tomorrow morning you will need to mask up and keep your mask on at all times while inside any of our facilities, and we have increased the minimum age of visitors to one person aged 16 or over to visit each patient.

During the past two weeks, there has been a significant increase in COVID-19 cases on top of other respiratory illnesses – resulting in a larger proportion of our population and health workforce unwell or looking after family at home. 

While this isn’t unexpected in winter, we are seeing a far greater impact, earlier than usual, across hospitals and primary care.”

Children and young people under the age of 16 will not be allowed into Te Whatu Ora Waitaha Canterbury facilities, unless the visit is prearranged on compassionate grounds.

Hickmott said this is because medical masks are less likely to fit under 16s well and children are less likely to be able to wear them correctly for the duration of a visit. Anyone who looks like they might be under 16, but isn’t, should bring some photo ID with them as proof of age.

Visiting hours for Christchurch Hospital are also being reduced to between 3 and 8pm to allow patients more time to rest and recover and ease pressure on health workers, with a significant proportion of the workforce currently unwell or looking after family at home due to COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses. 

Entry to Canterbury hospitals and health centres will be via main entrances only. 

Visitor guidelines 

  • One visitor at a time may visit a patient in our facilities. Visitors must be aged 16 or over.

  • Please phone and talk to the ward’s Charge Nurse to discuss any exceptions to this on compassionate grounds before you come to hospital to visit.

  • No eating or drinking while visiting a patient (i.e. you need to keep your mask on at all times when in our hospitals and health centres, except in cafes and areas designated for eating/drinking)

Mask wearing

  • Surgical/medical masks must be worn at all times inside all of our facilities and are provided at the front entrance if people don’t have them.

  • Note that the need to wear a mask at all times in our facilities also applies to people with mask exemptions as the health and safety of our patients is our top priority.

  • Even if you have a mask exemption, you won’t be able to enter any Te Whatu Ora facilities without a mask. If you are unable to visit, please call the Charge Nurse of the ward you want to visit, and staff will do their best to facilitate a phone or video call as an alternative.

  • As is the case now, on some wards, you will be required to wear an N95 mask to enter.

No visiting patients with COVID-19

  • COVID-19 positive patients cannot be visited other than on exceptional compassionate grounds agreed by the Charge Nurse Manager. Please phone the ward to arrange a phone or video call as an alternative.

You must NOT visit our facilities if you

  • are a household contact of a COVID-19 positive case

  • are COVID-19 positive

  • are unwell. Please stay home if you have a tummy bug or cold or flu/COVID-19-like symptoms (even if you’ve tested negative for COVID-19).

Exceptions to the ‘one visitor’ policy

  • Exceptions can apply in some circumstances (i.e. more than one visitor) where a trusted whānau member provides assistance, reassurance and other support for therapeutic care or on compassionate grounds – please talk to the ward’s Charge Nurse to discuss this before you come to hospital to visit. For whānau with an essential support role as a Partner in Care – please check with the ward’s Charge Nurse before you come to hospital to visit

  • People attending Christchurch ED or Ashburton AAU can have one support person with them

  • Women in labour and in the birthing suite can have two support people, and women on the Maternity Ward are allowed one support person for the duration of their stay in our facilities at Christchurch Womens Hospital and other maternity units. Only one support person can be with each woman in the maternity ward, and one support person for maternity clinic appointments, no children are allowed to visit.

  • Parents/caregivers can be with their baby in NICU.

  • Parents/caregivers are able to be with their child in hospital (Except Children’s Haematology and Oncology Day patients where only one parent or caregiver is permitted, following a supervised negative RAT result)

  • Children who are inpatients, one other visitor (other than a parent or caregiver) is able to visit in consultation with the nurse in charge.

  • People requiring support when attending an appointment can have one support person. Please let the relevant service know if you need this so they are able to accommodate your request.

Exceptions for people with disabilities

An exception will be made for people with disabilities who are in hospital or have to attend an outpatient appointment – where they need a support person to access health services. For example, a sign language interpreter, support person for someone with a learning disability, or someone to assist with mobility. The support person is in addition to the one permitted visitor.

Face covering exemption cards

The Exemptions Team at the Ministry of Health is now responsible for processing requests for Face Covering Communication Cards.

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

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