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COVID-19: Visitor Guidelines at Hospitals and Health Care Facilities

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Last updated: July 28, 2021

Horizon has updated its COVID-19 visitation guidelines based on direction from its Infectious Disease (ID) and Infection Prevention & Control (IPC) team. Our primary focus continues to be ensuring the health and safety of our patients and clients, staff, physicians and communities.

Domestic (Canadian) and international visitors from outside the extended Atlantic Bubble can visit patients in Horizon hospital and health care facilities as of July 15, 2021. Visitation guidelines are based where a visitor is travelling from and whether or not they have been vaccinated against COVID-19. 

The extended Atlantic Bubble includes New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, the Avignon and Témiscouata regions of Quebec and Listuguj First Nation in Quebec.

Active screening of visitors will take place before entering a Horizon hospital or health care facility. A screener will greet you and ask you a series of COVID-19 related questions, including questions about COVID-19 symptoms and recent travel. Screeners and the questions are in place to help protect patients, staff and visitors. Do your part to help keep our health care facilities safe by answering questions honestly and respectfully.

Because of these updated guidelines, the screening process may take longer than usual. Thank you for your patience as we allow more patients to connect with their loved ones.

Entry guidelines for Canadian and international visitors from outside the extended Atlantic Bubble

Before entering, domestic (Canadian) visitors from outside the extended Atlantic Bubble and international visitors who wish to visit a patient in a hospital or health care facility must:

  • provide proof of vaccination with two doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine, and it must be at least 14 days after their second dose;
  • provide proof of a negative COVID-19 result after entering the province and prior to each visit, and agree to be tested again on days 5 and 10;
  • provide proof of approval to travel to New Brunswick through the New Brunswick Travel Registration Program;
  • provide personal identification (ID) that matches their immunization record and travel registration; and
  • follow New Brunswick Public Health (PH) measures and Horizon Infection Prevention & Control (IPC) policies, such as: monitoring themselves for COVID-19 symptoms before each visit, wearing a mask at all times, maintaining physical distancing and cleaning their hands frequently. More information on guidelines while visiting a loved one in a Horizon facility can be found below.

Entry guidelines for visitors from a higher risk area within the extended Atlantic Bubble

Before entering, anyone from a higher risk area within the extended Atlantic Bubble (i.e. an increase in COVID-19 cases) who wishes to visit a patient in a Horizon hospital or health care facility must:

  • provide proof of vaccination with two doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine, and it must be at least 14 days after their second dose;
  • provide proof of a negative COVID-19 result after entering the province and prior to each visit, and agree to be tested again on days 5 and 10;
  • provide personal identification (ID) that matches their immunization record and travel registration; and
  • agree to follow New Brunswick Public Health (PH) measures and Horizon Infection Prevention & Control (IPC) policies, such as: monitoring themselves for COVID-19 symptoms before each visit, wearing a mask at all times, maintaining physical distancing and cleaning their hands frequently. More information on guidelines while visiting a loved one in a Horizon facility can be found below.

Anyone who wishes to visit a patient in a  Horizon hospital or health care facility who cannot provide proof they are fully vaccinated may visit 14 days after entering the province. They must be asymptomatic, and follow all PH and IPC guidelines. No further testing is required.

New Brunswick accepts any COVID-19 vaccine accepted by the Government of Canada:

  • 2 doses of vaccines manufactured by Pfizer, Moderna, or AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD (any combination); or
  • 1 dose of vaccine manufactured by Janssen (Johnson & Johnson).

Entry guidelines for compassionate visitation

The Canadian Red Cross is responsible for approving adaptations to self-isolation for travellers who have entered New Brunswick in order to provide care for a palliative patient or similar compassionate purposes.

For Canadian (domestic) or International travellers, you must first be approved to enter New Brunswick for compassionate reasons. To start this process, call the Canadian Red Cross at 1-800-863-6582. Select your language of choice. Then, select "1 - Affected by Disaster," then "5 - New Brunswick," and then "1" - Affected by COVID-19.

Once approved, the visitor(s) must then submit a request to the facility's executive director or designate to obtain permission to visit a Horizon facility.

There are further guidelines based on where visitors are travelling from and whether or not they have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

Compassionate visitation

Canadian (domestic) visitors from outside the extended Atlantic Bubble who wish to visit a patient in a Horizon hospital or health care facility must also:

  • provide proof of vaccination with at least one dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine;
  • provide proof of negative COVID-19 result obtained prior to the visit; may only visit after a negative test result is received and must agree to be tested on days 5 and 10 if visits continue;
  • follow New Brunswick Public Health (PH) measures and Horizon Infection Prevention & Control (IPC) policies, such as: self-monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms, wearing a mask at all times, maintaining physical distancing, cleaning their hands frequently;
  • and only going to the loved one's room in the facility. More information on guidelines while visiting a loved one in a Horizon facility can be found below.
  • if not vaccinated, self-isolate for 14 days after entering the province, or until such time as they can provide proof of a negative test for COVID-19 on or after day 5 of isolation and agree to be tested on day 10 if visits continue.   

For compassionate visitation, before entering, international travellers who wish to visit a patient in a Horizon hospital or health facility must also:

  • provide proof of being fully vaccinated with an approved COVID-19 vaccine;
  • provide proof of negative COVID-19 result obtained prior to the visit; may only visit after a negative test result is received and must agree to be tested on days 5 and 10 if visits continue;
  • follow New Brunswick Public Health (PH) measures and Horizon Infection Prevention & Control (IPC) policies, such as: self-monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms, wearing a mask at all times, maintaining physical distancing, cleaning their hands frequently and only going to the loved one's room. More information on guidelines while visiting a loved one in a Horizon facility can be found below.
  • If not fully vaccinated:
    • self-isolate for 14 days after entering the province, in accordance with the guidelines of the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health
    • Provide proof of negative COVID-19 test completed on/after day 5 prior to the visit; may only visit after a negative test result is received and must agree to be tested on day 10 if visits continue;
    • follow New Brunswick Public Health (PH) measures and Horizon Infection Prevention & Control (IPC) policies, such as: self-monitoring  for COVID-19 symptoms, wearing a mask at all times, maintaining physical distancing, cleaning their hands frequently and only going to the loved one's room in the facility. More information on guidelines while visiting a loved one in a Horizon facility can be found below.
    • agree to only go to the Horizon health care facility from the place where they will self-isolate if not fully vaccinated.

For compassionate visitation, before entering, anyone travelling from a higher risk area within the extended Atlantic Bubble (i.e. experiencing an increase in COVID-19 cases) who wishes to visit a patient in a Horizon hospital or health care facility must:

  • provide proof of negative COVID-19 result obtained prior to the visit; may only visit after a negative test result is received and must agree to be tested on days 5 and 10 if visits continue; and
  • follow New Brunswick Public Health (PH) measures and Horizon Infection Prevention & Control (IPC) policies, such as: self-monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms, wearing a mask at all times, maintaining physical distancing, cleaning their hands frequently and only going to the loved one's room in the facility. More information on guidelines while visiting a loved one in a Horizon facility can be found below.

Visitor Exemptions: Under exceptional circumstances, a one-time rapid test may be available and if negative for COVID-19, the family member may be permitted to visit within that 24-hr period from the time the swab was obtained.

Visitor guidelines

During the COVID-19 pandemic it is crucial we keep our patients, staff and hospital environment safe. We continue to place some limits on visitation in our hospitals during the pandemic until further notice. We understand this is difficult, but it is essential for the safety of everyone within our hospitals, including our vulnerable patients and essential frontline staff.

  • Visits can occur between 2 and 8 p.m., daily.
  • All patients can have ONE healthy social visitor at a time. Exceptions may be made if one visitor requires a support person (a second visitor may be permitted).
  • Eligible patients can have up to TWO designated support persons (DSP); only ONE DSP can attend at a time, in consultation with the patient and their health care team.
  • Visitors must be 12 years of age or older.
  • Pet visits are not permitted at this time. Service animals are permitted in consultation with the Departmental Manager as per Horizon's Therapy Animals / Service Animals Policy.
  • All  social visitors and designated support persons must monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms before each visit. Active screening of visitors and support persons will take place before entering a Horizon facility. A screener will greet you and ask you a series of COVID-19 related questions, including questions about COVID-19 symptoms and recent travel. Screeners and the questions are in place to help protect patients, staff and visitors. Do your part to help keep our health care facilities safe by answering questions honestly and respectfully.
  • Social visitors and designated support persons will not be permitted to enter without a mask. When you come to a Horizon facility for an appointment or to visit a loved one, please wear your own face mask. You will be provided a new face mask during the screening process and asked to put on this face mask before entering.
  • Social visitors must comply with all Public Health measures in place and must follow the facility's Infection Prevention and Control policies, such as maintaining physical distancing and cleaning their hands frequently.
  • Social visitors must limit their interactions with staff, patients and other visitors. They must leave the patient's room when staff are conducting procedures.
  • All visitors must agree to only go to the patient's room when they are in the facility.

At any time, staff can restrict the number of visitors in an area or the length of visits to ensure physical distancing can be maintained.

Social visitors and designated support persons must sign in when entering a Horizon facility as part of an amended Emergency Order from the Government of New Brunswick. If you are visiting a loved one or supporting a visitor or patient, you must provide your name and telephone number during the screening process.

This information is required, or you will not be permitted to enter the facility.

Patients arriving for appointments requiring contact information as part of the registration process (i.e.: blood work, surgery, outpatient clinic, X-ray, etc.) are not required to sign in.

To ensure the health and safety of our visitors, designated support persons, patients and staff, pens will be sanitized between each use.

Visitor Exceptions

Some exceptions are in place for certain patients. They are:

Palliative Care

The following guidelines apply to palliative visitation in any alert level (Red, Orange or Yellow).

  • ONE designated support person at a time, from a list of 10 designated individuals, unless associated support is required. The facility is to be provided with the list of designated support persons in advance.
  • When a patient is actively dying, TWO designated support persons at a time from the list of 10 designated individuals may attend. Visitation outside of the normal designated visiting hours may be considered.
  • ONE additional visitor for pastoral/spiritual care for a palliative care patient at the end-of-life is permitted to visit to provide comfort to the patient, family and loved ones during this end-of-life care period.
  • Out-of-province visitors must follow Public Health guidelines regarding application for exemptions, testing and isolation.

Critical Care

  • Critical Care patients may have ONE designated support person at a time, and visitors will be limited to close family members only. The length of these visits will be determined by the unit staff based on unit activity. This includes: Intensive Care and Critical Care patients.

Pediatrics, Labour and Birth and Neonatal Intensive Care

  • For Pediatric, Labour and Birth, and Neonatal patients, TWO designated support persons may visit at a time.

Emergency Departments

  • Patients visiting Emergency Departments who require assistance may have ONE support person only. No other visitors permitted. Only ONE person per pediatric patient is allowed (parent or caregiver only).

Outpatient Departments

  • Patients visiting Outpatient Departments may have ONE support person - ONLY for patients requiring assistance.

Discharge

  • At Discharge, ONE healthy individual allowed to pick up discharged patients.

Designated Support Person (DSP)

A DSP is an active partner in care and an essential member of the health care team who can provide personalized physical, and emotional support, as deemed important by the eligible patient.    

A DSP is an individual the patient wants involved in their care and can include family members, close friends or other caregivers and are identified/designated by the patient or substitute decision maker (SDM).

A DSP is different from a social visitor and is often a family member or close friend who has knowledge about the patient's health history, lifestyle and personal values.

Eligible patients can identify / designate a maximum of two DSPs, but only one DSP is permitted by their bedside at one time.

Who can have a DSP?

We recognize the importance of family presence to our hospitalized patients. To balance this integral part of a patient's healing process while safely providing care by limiting the number of people in our facilities due to COVID-19, DSP eligibility will be based on a patient's individual health care needs and overall length of hospital stay.

The following patient populations are eligible for a DSP:

  • End of Life - Palliative Care
  • Obstetrics (Labour and Delivery, Postpartum)
  • Neonatal
  • Intensive Care/Critical Care Units
  • Pediatrics
  • Patients who have been in hospital for 14 days or longer
  • Patients with intellectual / communication impairments (cognitive impairment leading to agitation and inability to console; communication impairment which affects care)

Exceptions will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

If you have questions about the DSP program, please email Horizon@horizonnb.ca or call the toll-free number 1-833-625-1653.

In addition to these visitor guidelines, we have also introduced limitations to what items can be brought into or dropped off at our facilities for patients, including food and clothing. Please note: This does not apply to patients being admitted to hospital (new admissions).

We can accept a patient's personal items as long as they can be easily wiped and cleaned with a disinfectant and the item is from a household where none of the occupants are self-isolating. Accepted personal items include: electronic devices, glasses, hearing aids, etc.

Patient/Designated Visitor personal items will be accepted into the facility if items can be easily wiped and cleaned with a disinfectant, and meet the screening criteria of being from a household where none of the occupants are inself-isolation.

The following are examples of accepted and not accepted items but is not an all-inclusive list:

Take Out Food and Homemade Food

Take-out and homemade food will now be permitted for patients in all phases of the pandemic.

Take-out food must come from a licensed establishment and will only be permitted if a support person/visitor is available to deliver to the patient's room. Staff will not be responsible for the delivery of food. Food delivery personnel will not be permitted to deliver food to the patient's room.

If a patient chooses to have take-out food delivered at the hospital, the delivery person will need to successfully pass the screening protocol at the facility's designated entrance before the food is accepted into the facility. The support person / visitor will then pick up the food at the entrance.

Homemade food is permitted if a support person/visitor is available to deliver the food to the patient's room. The food must be stored in a container that can be easily cleaned and disinfected with a hospital approved cleaner/disinfectant wipe. The container must be taken home for cleaning and not left in the patient's room.

Information for contractors

Contractors who are required to be at a Horizon facility for essential construction work must arrive on the property at an entrance that has been agreed upon with their Facilities, Engineering and Property Management (FEPM) contact.

They must notify the FEPM contact by phone when they arrive, and their FEPM contact will review all screening questions. No contractors should arrive on-site if they have any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever above 38 degrees Celsius
  • A new cough, or worsening chronic cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Headache
  • A new onset of fatigue
  • A new onset of muscle pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of sense of taste
  • Loss of sense of smell
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Pneumonia

Contractors must be aware of and follow a designated path to the approved work area. Contractors must not travel through the hospital.

When a contractor is ready to leave a site because work is complete, or for lunch or supplies, they should notify the FEPM contact.

Note: Notification of construction start-up must be provided at least five (5) business days in advance. Contractors will need to provide a written COVID-19 compliance plan, measures and monitoring process that complies with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and associated regulations and Public Health directives and guidelines. Construction activity on-site must also follow all facility Infection Prevention and Control guidelines.