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COVID-19: Impact to Services and Operations Healthy People, Healthy Communities
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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions 

Q: Are services resuming?
 
A: Eastern Health is beginning to increase service levels that were slowed or suspended due to the most recent community outbreak of COVID-19. We are working diligently to increase services while respecting public health orders issued by the provincial Medical Officer of Health. As we move through the alert levels, services will increase accordingly. At this time, the Avalon Peninsula is in Alert Level 4 while the Burin and Bonavista Peninsulas are in Alert Level 3. Services will be opening to varying levels depending on where a site is located.  The increase in service capacity will be balanced with the need to maintain precautions put in place to keep patients, visitors and staff safe throughout the pandemic.
 
Q: How will I know if my appointment is proceeding?
 
A: Patients are advised that they will be contacted by Eastern Health regarding their appointments/procedures and should only proceed to Eastern Health appointments/procedures that have been confirmed by phone or appointment letter.
 
Q: Can I make an appointment for laboratory services (e.g. blood collection)?
 
A: Outpatient blood collection sites continue to provide urgent/emergent and chronic diseases testing at this time. This includes blood testing for patients requiring INRs (international normalized ratios), therapeutic drug-level monitoring testing and, for cancer care patients, monitoring of cancer clinic profiles and other required cancer-related testing. For areas outside of the Avalon Peninsula and that are in Alert Level 3, Eastern Health is rebooking cancelled appointments.
 
Q: What medical imaging (e.g. X-ray, Ultrasound, Mammography, CT, MRI, Interventional Radiology, Nuclear Medicine, PET scan, Bone Mineral Density) appointments are proceeding? 
 
A: Obstetrical ultrasounds will continue as planned. Outpatient procedures with appointments only proceed at this time and patients will be contacted if their appointments are going ahead. There will be no walk-in appointments.
 
Q: How can I find out if my appointment is proceeding?
 
A: A temporary phone line is available for those who have questions about the status of their hospital appointments. Patients and clients can call 709-752-4500, or toll-free at 1-833-752-4500, from Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 
 
Q: What do I need to know prior to my appointment?
 
A: All individuals should present to their scheduled appointments no more than 10 minutes prior to their scheduled time (unless otherwise indicated when your appointment was confirmed) and to wear the provided mask upon entry to Eastern Health facilities. We ask that when you are in all Eastern Health facilities that you maintain physical distance from others. Some procedures will require pre-procedure COVID-19 testing. If this is the case, you will be advised by your health-care provider. 
 
Visitation
 
Q: Are visitors permitted in hospitals, long-term care homes health centres, and other health-care facilities throughout the region? 
 
A: Visitor restrictions during the pandemic are critically important to the safety of our patients, staff and physicians. Currently, temporary visitation/attendance restrictions remain in place at all provincially-operated acute care facilities, health centres and long-term care homes, as well as privately-operated long-term care homes, personal care homes, community care homes and assisted living facilities.
 
Q: What restrictions are in place for visitation in hospitals?
 
A:  In certain exceptional circumstances, patients in hospitals may be permitted one essential visitor/support person for the duration of their stay. Essential visitors may not necessarily be identified for every patient/resident.
 
Q: My loved one is in the intensive care unit (ICU)/critical care unit (CCU). Is the visitation policy different in these circumstances? 
 
A: Two designated visitors are permitted to visit one ICU/CCU patient at the same time. Visitation may begin immediately after admission, with visiting times determined in consultation with the care team.
 
Q:  My loved one is in palliative care. What visitation is permitted in palliative care?
 
A: The guidelines for palliative care can vary and is individualized based on the patient’s condition. Directions for visiting will be provided by the health-care team, please connect with your loved one’s health-care team for further direction. 
 
Q: Is visitation different for labour and delivery?
 
A: Expecting mothers can have one support person during their delivery. The support person can continue to support the mother for the duration of the time in hospital. Additionally, two other visitors are permitted after delivery with visits coordinated by the care-team.
 
Q: Are pediatric patients permitted to have both parents as visitors?
 
A: Yes, children admitted to hospital can have both parents identified as essential visitors, and only one of the parents may be present at a time. Children with an extended admission, in consultation with their care team, may be permitted to identify up to two designated visitors in addition to the parents.
 
Q: Can I bring a support person to my cancer care appointment?
 
A: One essential visitor/support person is permitted for patients who have a clinic appointment with their health-care provider. For radiation, chemotherapy, or bloodwork treatment visits, we continue to ask that patients come alone unless they meet criteria set by the provincial guidelines.
 
Q: What are the residential care setting visitation restrictions?
 
A: In certain exceptional circumstances, residents may be permitted one essential visitor/support person for the duration of their stay, consistent with Eastern Health’s Family Presence and General Visitation policy.  
 
In residential care settings (long-term care, personal-care homes, community care homes, and assisted living facilities), in addition to any essential visitors identified previously, each resident can identify up to two designated visitors.  
 
Families of residents in residential care settings (long-term care, personal-care homes, community care homes, and assisted living facilities) should contact the home for information about visitation procedures as they may vary at each facility. 
 
Virtual visitation can be an alternate way to connect with loved ones during these visitor restrictions. To arrange for a virtual visit, please also discuss your request with the care team. 
 
Q: I am looking to confirm or cancel a hospital appointment. How do I do that?  
 
A: Due to changes in service related to COVID-19, a new temporary phone line is available for those who have questions about the status of their previously scheduled hospital appointments. Patients and clients can call 709-752-4500, or toll-free at 1-833-752-4500, Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
 
The phone number for central bookings is 709-777-6440. If you are looking for X-ray bookings, the number is 709-777-9729.  
 
A listing of direct phone lines for appointments in different service areas is available on our Contact Us page, under Appointments Lines.
 
If you are unable to make your appointment, or are sure your appointment is no longer necessary, please call the number listed in your appointment letter, as soon as possible. To offer the appointment to someone else, clinics need at least 48 hours’ notice. 
 
Q: I have been waiting for my appointment for a long time and I am concerned about my health. What should I do? 
 
A: Patients who have concerns about their health should contact their doctor or nurse practitioner for an appointment. Family physicians are able to consult with on-call specialists to determine whether urgent investigation of a patient’s health issue is required. We realize that patients’ health situations can change over time and that the routine procedures that some patients are awaiting may become emergent and/or urgent as we manage through COVID-19. 
 
If you do not have a family doctor or a regular health provider, please call the 811 NL HealthLine (811 / TTY 1-888-709-3555) to speak to a registered nurse 24 hours a day, seven days a week about any health issue or concern. For information regarding family physicians who may be accepting new patients, please visit the Find A Doctor NL webpage: https://www.findadoctornl.ca/.     
 
If you are experiencing an emergency, please proceed to your nearest emergency department or call 911. 
 
We acknowledge that this is a difficult time for those awaiting routine procedures. We would like to reassure the public that we are working behind the scenes to review and prioritize patient lists on a regular basis to identify and to complete critical and emergent appointments and surgeries while we continue to expand service capacity.     
 
 
Q: What is the plan to catch up on current backlogs/waitlists? 
 
A: Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, depending on the Alert Level and related public health measures at the time, large volumes of routine tests and procedures will have to be postponed. This will result in a reduction of services and in an increase of waitlists for some health-care services. 
 
To address this, affected service programs have implemented backlog plans. As the province moves through the various Alert Levels, when possible, we continue to work diligently to expand service capacity and address backlogs through measures such as:
  • increased use of virtual care and other technologies;   
  • extension of clinic times and hours of operations where feasible;  
  • assessment and maximization of staffing levels; and   
  • decreasing number of no-shows.   

Q: What happens with ‘no shows’? 
 
A: When a person doesn’t show at the appointed time, or doesn’t give sufficient notice, diagnostic equipment can lie idle, as there is no time to offer that appointment to someone else, resulting in wasted resources of both staff and equipment. Additionally, the ‘no-show’ patient usually needs to be re-booked, which, in turn, slows down the booking/appointment process overall.  Many procedures that require patient preparation, such endoscopies, are also significantly impacted by ‘no shows’.   
 
As we work to resume services, your collaboration is more important than ever. Please partner with us to make the appointment process more efficient and fair for all by: 
  • keeping scheduled appointments,
  • or cancelling with at least 48 hours’ notice, and
  • by keeping contact information up to date. 

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Updated Mar 24, 2021