Maternity support persons diagnosed with COVID-19 allowed into hospitals: Alberta CMOH order

According to Alberta's public health guidelines for COVID-19, individuals who are symptomatic or who test positive for the disease, must stay away from hospital environments.

However, an exemption from Order 39-2021, signed by the Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw, says COVID-19-positive people can enter those facilities, provided they are specially requested by an obstetrical patient.

It allows anyone who is an essential support person to an obstetrical patient into a health facility, provided that the physicians are aware of that person and they can still "safely provide care."

"The essential support person is exempt from the provisions of the Order that require isolation and may attend at hospital or medical facility to the extent necessary to allow an obstetrical patient to receive medical care, or to visit the obstetrical patient at that hospital or medical facility," the order reads.

While at the hospital, that person must also divulge the fact they are in isolation, follow all the instructions set out by staff including all precautions against the transmission of COVID-19.

They must also use private transportation whenever possible, where they are the sole occupant in the vehicle or travelling only with the obstetrical patient.

Additional rules apply if the support person needs to use public transportation.

"The person shall, in addition to travelling directly to and from their isolation premises to the hospital or medical facility with no stops in between, also where possible engage in social distancing of no less than two metres from other persons using the same shared transportation."

The support person must also wear a mask at all times, employ proper hand hygiene and remain two metres away from "every person except from the obstetrical patient and, as applicable, the infant."

Both the support person and obstetrical patient will remain under contact and droplet isolation while at the hospital, the order says.

Alberta Health Services confirmed the exemption order has been in effect since July and is granted only under "exceptional circumstances."

"In cases where an exemption is granted for an essential support person, protocols are in place to ensure the safety of our staff and all patients on the maternity unit. They must inform the hospital or medical facility prior to their arrival, so staff can ensure they are able to safely provide care," said Patrick Burles, with AHS' communications department in a statement.

"The essential support person otherwise must follow CMOH isolation orders. They must travel directly to the healthcare facility, with no stops in between."

AHS strongly recommends all essential persons and support personnel be fully-immunized against COVID-19.