N.B. nursing homes scrambling to prepare for visits to residents
SAINT JOHN, N.B. -- Nursing homes in New Brunswick are scrambling to come-up-with plans that will allow residents to receive visitors for the first time in months.
The government has approved limited visits and some nursing homes say they were surprised it came so soon.
Warning signs remain up at New Brunswick nursing homes, and it may be a while before residents can receive visitors.
This week, the premier announced a loosening of restrictions.
"We will allow outdoor visits of up to two visitors at a time," Premier Blaine Higgs said Thursday. "We recognize that not every facility will be able to do this, but we want to be able to give them the option to do so if they can."
But some nursing homes appear to have been caught by surprise.
One facility today told CTV News:
"We were aware that this announcement would be coming but were not expecting it so soon," said Tammy Allaby, a spokesperson for Kingsway Lifecare Alliance. "We are currently working to put a proper plan in place and we are excited to proceed with caution."
Nursing homes are developing plans for small scale, outdoor visits by family members.
"Let's say we have a 50-bed nursing home, maybe five residents a day could receive a visitor," said Social Development Minister Dorothy Shephard. "And if that visitor needs help, someone would accompany them, but we can't open this up to a come as you please type of environment."
The lifting of some restrictions does not apply to the Campbellton Region, where, this week, a nursing home resident became New Brunswick's first COVID-19 fatality.
The outbreak in Zone 5, should be the subject of a public inquiry, says a long-time seniors advocate.
"We should learn from this," said Cecile Cassista of the Coalition for Seniors/Nursing Home Rights. "We have started our campaign today asking for a public inquiry. What is going on up there? And also, that could bring to light, are the borders closed or are they not closed?"
Shephard says she doesn't know if an inquiry is needed.
"I think we need to try to understand all the elements of what happened here, and then if we don't think we're getting all the facts, maybe we have to go a step further," she said.