Family members say eased visitor restrictions at hospitals still not enough during pandemic
HALIFAX -- Even with relaxed visitor restrictions at hospitals throughout the Maritimes, the COVID-19 pandemic is proving to be difficult for patients and their loved ones.
Eighty-one-year-old Eileen Smith knows the struggles all too well. Her 86-year-old husband, John, had barely settled into the Camp Hill Veterans Memorial Building in March when the COVID-19 restrictions started.
"On Sunday, I was in there relaxing in his room and they came and they said, 'You're going to have to leave right away,'" said Eileen.
Due to the restrictions, Eileen was unable to see her husband for more than three months.
Since restrictions were relaxed, Eileen can visit again, but only for about 20 minutes, and booked well in advance.
She's worried she could get a phone call in the middle of the night with bad news.
"And another thing that bothers me, what if we're shut down again? And I can't see him?" cried Eileen.
The Nova Scotia Health Authority knows it's been difficult for everyone, but says the well-being of veterans and residents is their priority.
Officials say social connections are of paramount importance, and they're doing everything they can to support them, while staying in compliance with public health rules and regulations.
"It seems to me that the 53 deaths at Northwood have become almost forgotten and I hear a lot of people complaining that they can't see their loved one, but at the same time, if even one case were to get into a long-term care facility, it could spread like wildfire," said Gary MacLeod, an advocate for the care of the elderly.
Eileen says she understands the risks to long-term care homes, but only wishes to be able to spend a little bit more time with the love of her life.
"It would be so nice if we could just relax together, and sit maybe, and be next to one another," said Eileen.
Eileen also added the staff at Camp Hill Veterans Memorial Building have been wonderful with her husband, and she does talk to John on the phone at least four times a day.
The health authority is encouraging visitors to reach out virtually, pick up the phone, or send an email to their loved ones in long-term care homes. Workers will also read aloud to residents, if needed, to keep them connected with family and friends.