Health-care services, visiting restricted

Monique Johnstone, Western Cape Health Department

Allowing patients to be visited by their loved ones during their stay in hospital is an essential part of their recovery and wellness. Having an escort present during a visit to an emergency unit and an outpatient clinic is reassuring for many patients and essential for other patients such as young children. Similarly, the pain and anxiety of labour can be eased by having a partner present. Despite the benefits of having visitors and escorts, the increased risk of spreading Covid-19 infection during the high prevalence of a third wave, outweighs the benefits of having loved ones present, and hence visitors and escorts have to be severely restricted.

The policy on hospital visiting and escorts was amended on Monday June 21 to accommodate the changes in the Covid-19 alert levels and includes the temporary cancellation of non-life-threatening services such as elective surgery, minor surgical procedures, speech therapy and eye clinics to name a few.

The restrictions on visitors and escorts are aimed at ensuring that our patients, families, visitors, and staff are protected against transmission during the third wave. Depending on the nature of the service of facilities, specific arrangements have been put in place.

Should you or a family member need to visit a hospital, please establish which specific arrangements are in place at that facility. If you are escorting a patient to a health-care facility, then access for escorts will be restricted into the facility and only the patient will be allowed access.

We urge the public to please respect these new arrangements. Although we know it is challenging for many visitors and patients, we must be responsible and protect one another.

To enquire about a patient or for information about a health-care service during the third Covid-19 wave, please phone your nearest health-care centre.