Local hospitals update visitor guidelines, offer tips on accessing COVID-19 tests

No more social visits; essential care providers must be double vaccinated

WELLINGTON COUNTY – County hospitals have updated their essential care partner/visitor guidelines in response to the increase in local Omicron COVID-19 cases.

Groves Memorial Community Hospital (GMCH), located in Centre Wellington, and North Wellington Health Care (NWHC), which operates hospitals in Palmerston and Mount Forest, also offered some some tips for the public on when and where to receive a COVID assessment, in a Dec. 22 press release.

Effective Dec. 23, GMCH/NWHC essential care partners will have to be two-dose vaccinated and show proof of vaccination before entering the hospital.

Essential care partners (ECP) are a support person whose presence is considered essential to the safety and well-being of a patient while they are in the hospital. An ECP is different from a social visitor or a paid support worker.

At this time, social visitors will not be allowed in local hospitals. 

“This new protocol will help to protect our patients who are at risk of becoming severely ill with COVID,” states Angela Stanley, president and CEO of GMCH/NWHC.

The release notes there are some exceptions to this rule. For full details visit www.gmch.ca or www.nwhealthcare.ca.

Acknowledging, “When and where to go for a COVID-19 assessment is confusing to the public right now,” Stanley said officials are offering tips to help “make a wise decision and help to alleviate pressure on our health care system.”

Anyone experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 that they feel is a medical emergency (such as shortness of breath, chest pain, etc.) should go to their local emergency department or call 911.

“Please do not go to the [emergency department] because you would like to have a COVID-19 test done,” hospital officials urge.

COVID-19 assessment centres should be used by those:

  • experiencing COVID-19 symptoms (that are not a medical emergency);
  • who have been exposed to a confirmed case of the virus, as informed by public health;
  • who are resident or work in a setting that has a COVID-19 outbreak, as identified and informed by public health.

Appointments can be booked at www.whcacovid.com or check public health’s website for a list of assessment centres in the region.

 Tests are not provided for travel or social reasons.

“We understand the toll COVID-19 is taking on our communities right now and stress levels are high,” said Stanley. 

“We ask the public to please be kind to our health care workers as they are all working hard to support and care for our community.”