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Runnymede brings patients and families together after months apart

Maria Foggetti (left) visits with her daughter, Jil Lograno at Runnymede Healthcare Centre on June 23, 2020, the first day the hospital opened for limited in-person visiting.

Hospital visiting restrictions during the COVID-19 crisis have put tremendous strain on patients and families. Particularly vulnerable are those experiencing long stays, like 88-year-old Runnymede Healthcare Centre patient, Maria Foggetti.

When the Ontario government issued guidelines for the gradual reintroduction of hospital visitors, Runnymede acted with incredible speed. The hospital put a detailed plan into action within days so patients like Maria could safely reunite with family after months of separation.

Maria’s daughter, Jil Lograno, was one of the first to come to Runnymede when it reopened its doors to in-person visits on June 23. Until then she had participated in virtual visits arranged by the hospital, but says they weren’t a match for the real thing.

“Virtual visits were great under the circumstances but making a connection in person means so much more, and not being in each other’s presence for so long has been stressful,” she said. “Mom feels the same way too – when we first saw each other this morning her eyes just lit up.”

In-person visits support patient health and recovery

Runnymede recognizes that patients’ mental and emotional health goes hand in hand with their physical recovery, so the hospital worked diligently within the recommended guidelines to reunite them with their family members.

“Our commitment to an outstanding patient experience drove us to develop and implement a plan for easing visiting restrictions a full week before the Ministry of Health’s deadline,” said Runnymede’s Director, Client Relations and Community Engagement, Sarah King. “Patients’ and families’ needs inform every decision we make, and our focus on patient-centred care pushed us to reopen for visitors quickly and safely.”

The hospital prioritized visits for its long-stay patients – those who have been at Runnymede for 30 days or more. Visits lasting up to one hour are scheduled in advance with designated family members. One visitor at a time is permitted per patient, between two to three times a week.

Safety remains the top priority

Visits take place in a covered section of the hospital’s back garden, which provides ample room for social distancing while also protecting from the elements.

“Education was also key to the successful implementation of our visiting process,” said Runnymede’s patient experience specialist, Kim Pham. “Training videos were prepared specifically for family members about proper personal protective equipment (PPE) use and hand hygiene, and information was shared with them in advance of their scheduled visit to outline our safety precautions and inform them about what they can expect before, during and after their visit.”

Incredible response from families

Family members’ response to the easing of visiting restrictions has been overwhelming; within a day of reopening for visitors, many reached out to schedule an appointment.

Jil Lograno is very excited for when the hospital can enter the next phase of opening to visitors. “I missed seeing mom so much, and I can’t wait for when I’m able to give her a hug,” she said. “Right now she’s so happy to have someone from our family come and see her again, and I’m thrilled to see with my own eyes that she is doing very well.”