NSHA operational update, Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Extended visitor restrictions
Nova Scotia Health Authority is extending visitor restrictions at all facilities to limit the spread of respiratory illness, including COVID-19. 
No visitors are permitted in any of NSHA’s hospitals. 
There are compassionate and supportive care exceptions in consultation with the care team, they are as follows:  
  • patients at end-of-life; 
  • a designated person per patient is permitted in labour and delivery rooms; 
  • parent/guardian with pediatric patients; 
  • substitute decision makers as required for plan of care.
In these circumstances, the visitor/ support person will be named and limited to one person.  Multiple people waiting in hallways, family rooms or waiting rooms is not acceptable given requirements to social distance. In the case of pediatric patients, an exception may be considered for two parents in consultation with care team.
Visitor restrictions are a series of infection control measures put in place to reduce the risk of spreading infectious diseases which are common in health care facilities.  They are designed to help keep clients, families, staff and visitors healthy and safe.
Updates to closures and cancellations
Please visit http://www.nshealth.ca/temporaryclosures for additional closures and cancellations. This page is updated regularly.
Automated appointment reminders in the Central Zone have been stopped.
NSHA’s Cancer Care Program is dedicated to maintaining cancer services to the greatest extent possible during the COVID 19 pandemic.
Currently, all outpatient services in medical, radiation and gynecologic oncology, as well as hematology, including chemotherapy and radiation treatments, will be continuing to provide clinical services but minimizing patients coming to the hospital when safe and possible. Patients with appointments in medical, hematologic and gynecologic oncology may receive a telephone call from the cancer centre or clinic prior to any scheduled appointments advising if the appointment has been changed to a telephone or video appointment. All patients scheduled for radiation therapy will go ahead as planned.
NSHA is working on a process to continue cancer surgeries, as possible. All scheduled cancer and non-cancer surgeries are being reviewed to ensure we are able to provide the best cancer surgery services possible within resource limitations due to COVID 19. Patients will be contacted if there are changes to their surgery dates.
All Mental Health and Addiction group-based therapies and group programming will be paused. Urgent and non-urgent one-to-one outpatient clinics will continue. Patients will also have the choice to move their in-person sessions to take place over the phone, where appropriate, or through a secure video conferencing platform, where available.
The following Mental Health and Addiction services will pause: 
  • All group-based programs, group therapies/ treatments, and community outreach visits;
  • Non-urgent home visits;
  • Adolescent Outreach Services (including CaperBase Outreach Services) and Schools Plus, offered in various schools across the province;
  • New Hope Club in New Glasgow, Crossroads Clubhouse in Sydney, Beacon Program in Kentville, and Connections Dartmouth, Halifax and Sackville; 
  • Borderline Personality Disorder Treatment Program in Dartmouth, and Mental Health Day Treatment Program in Halifax;
  • Addictions Day Treatment/Wellness Programming at Strait Richmond Hospital in Cleveland and at Cape Breton Regional Hospital in Sydney; and
  • Driving While Impaired and Smoking/Tobacco/Nicotine Cessation programming.
If you have any questions, please contact your clinician, clinic or service area.
The Mental Health Provincial Crisis Line is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to anyone experiencing a mental health or addictions crisis or someone concerned about them, by calling toll-free 1-888-429-8167.
Kids Help Phone is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, by calling 1-800-668-6868 (toll-free).
New Mental Health Virtual Program 
The Mental Health and Addictions program has accelerated the launch of an online program: ICAN (Conquer Anxiety and Nervousness) – Anxiety Program (18+ years of age): People looking for help for anxiety and depression can benefit from doing this program. In this program, you will learn and understand anxiety. You will also learn valuable life-skills that have been proven to overcome anxiety.  This program provides adults with a manual or access to a secure website, skill demonstration videos, and, most important, weekly telephone support from a coach. This service is private and confidential and offered through the Strongest Families Institute.   
Strongest Families Institute is a charity that provides proven services to adults and families seeking help for mental health and other issues impacting health and well-being. Strongest Families provides timely care by teaching skills through a unique distance coaching approach – supporting clients over the phone and Internet in the comfort and privacy of their own home. Strongest Families provides client-centered care that is customized to their needs.
We are grateful for the work of more than 7,000 Nova Scotians who give their time and talents to volunteer with NSHA throughout the province. Unfortunately, as part of the containment effort, we have suspended the volunteer program until further notice.
New or relocated assessment centres
There are new or relocated COVID-19 assessment centres open or opening in Shelburne, Bridgewater, Halifax and Dartmouth. 
Nova Scotians who have travelled out of country and who develop a fever with a temperature of 38°C or higher, and/or cough, should use this screening tool to find out if you should call 811 about COVID-19.
If there is a need for in-person assessment, 811 will refer to a COVID-19 assessment centre and you will be contacted for an appointment.
Please do not go to a COVID-19 assessment centre without having been referred by 811.
Those directed to an assessment centre by 811 will then have a physical assessment on site and based on that a swab will be taken for patients for whom it is appropriate.
NOTE TO MEDIA: B-roll from the QEII Microbiology lab where samples are tested for COVID-19 and an interview with the technical manager of the lab are available at https://vimeo.com/398306378/a45b60226a
Still photos available here.