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Family of Regina cancer patient pleads for easing of hospital visitation restrictions

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A Regina woman is calling on provincial health officials to ease restrictions on family visitation after her father was admitted to Regina General Hospital with a brain tumor.

Ashley Woytiuk told Global News that, save for a Friday morning results appointment, her family was told nobody could accompany her father during examination and treatment at the hospital due to COVID-19 restrictions.

She believes that all inpatients receiving care for cognitive problems should be allowed consistent family accompaniment.

“They should be able to have one support person at the very minimum,” said Woytiuk, whose 64-year-old father Richard first showed signs of a medical problem Monday.

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“I hope that the Saskatchewan Health Authority, and Dr. Shahab and Scott Moe can understand how difficult this has been on my family but I’m sure on other families as well.”

Woytiuk said her dad was accompanied by his wife Belinda when he went through an initial CT scan at Pasqua Hospital. But she said that when her father was transferred to Regina General hospital for further scanning, Belinda was unable to accompany him through the process.

She said Belinda was granted permission to be with Richard when he received the results of the secondary scanning Friday morning, but that she hasn’t yet been granted any further visitation permission.

“They had said he was wanting to leave the unit because he was confused and was looking for my mom. I called him a couple of times and he was crying because he wanted to leave. To get a diagnosis like this is hard enough, and then to not be able to be with your family member — that is even worse,” she said.

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She said Friday afternoon that her father was diagnosed with lung cancer that has spread to his brain. She said that he was being sent home Friday night and is scheduled to start receiving further retreatment within a week.

When asked for comment, the Saskatchewan Health Authority declined to speak to the specific case.

In a statement, a spokesperson said “if patients or family members have concerns, we encourage them to contact our Quality of Care Coordinators office directly, so that they can start the confidential process into finding out what has happened and see how we may be able to help.”

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The spokesperson pointed out that on April 1, all family presence restrictions at Regina SHA facilities were moved to level three.

“Level 3 Family Presence means that two family/support members can be present at the same time for end-of-life care only,” the statement reads, before suggesting exceptions are being made on a case-by-case basis.

“One essential family/support person can be designated to assist with care if needed as determined by the care team (self-care, mobility, nutrition and behavioural needs). Additional family presence can be supported for specific circumstances, including critical care, intensive care, maternal, postpartum or pediatric units,” the statement continues.

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The statement concludes that family presence restrictions “will be reviewed weekly with the goal of removing the additional restriction as soon as it is safe to do so.”

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Premier Scott Moe, meanwhile, was asked for comment on the matter in the legislature Friday after question period.

He suggested an exception should be made.

“I’m not aware of the specific situation, but I would hope certainly that we’re making allowances so that people can, ultimately, communicate with their health care professionals,” Moe said.

“I hope that possibly in this case it may have been a misunderstanding.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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