Visitor suspension lifted after COVID-19 probe ends at Camp Hill Veterans Memorial Building

The daughter of an 80-year-old veteran was bracing to go another several months without seeing her father after she received an email Thursday morning, stating visits from designated caregivers were ‘suspended, effective immediately.’

“Last time it was roughly seven months that we couldn’t get in to see my dad,” said Daphne Carrigan, a designated caregiver for her father.

Camp Hill
Daphne Carrigan is one of two designated caregivers for her father. Supplied: Daphne Carrigan

The email was sent to family members by Heather White, the director of Veteran’s Care and Geriatrics.

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It stated that the decision was made based on advice from infection prevention and control.

“We were notified that we did have one member of our Camp Hill community that had been identified as a contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19,” White said.

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That piece of information wasn’t included in the email sent to family members like Carrigan.

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Therefore, she said she was left to wonder whether her father would go another long period of time without seeing the familiar faces of loved ones.

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“My mother and I play a huge role in my dad’s, I would say, his care and also, obviously, his mental health and just being able to hug him,” Carrigan said.

White said the suspension was put into place as a precautionary measure to ensure there were no risks to residents and for a thorough investigation, including contact tracing, to be completed.

“We are now able to safely resume all activities as aligned with public health guidelines,” White said.

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All told, the suspension in visitations from designated caregivers lasted for 24 hours.

Carrigan says the year has been an ’emotional roller coaster’ and that when public health announced that designated caregivers were allowed to visit long-term care facilities this fall, she jumped at the chance.

“I’m very involved in my dad’s basic daily care such as his teeth brushing and his grooming, and I did notice a bit of a change in that since we were locked out for those months the last time,” Carrigan said.

White says designated caregivers are provided training and guidance to ensure they are staying as safe as possible during the pandemic while visiting their loved ones.

“All of our designated caregivers do receive infection prevention and control training so that they’re here and able to provide the much-needed support they need to the veterans and residents, but also that their circles of contact are kept small,” White said.

Citing privacy reasons, no further details around the COVID-19 exposure were provided, but White says the investigation concluded without any further action required.

Carrigan is hopeful that on-site testing for COVID-19 may be implemented at Camp Hill in the future.

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