Sabrina Foxworthy is fully vaccinated, and was willing to wait the necessary two weeks for her sister — who is critically ill in hospital after an accident — to get her vaccine and have it take effect before being able to visit her.
But what Foxworthy said she doesn't understand is why her mother, who is also fully vaccinated, wasn't allowed to visit her daughter, because the room's other patient is unvaccinated.
"Who were they trying to protect?" Foxworthy asked Monday. "I want them to explain that to me. This makes zero sense. Who are they protecting — the unvaccinated person? They are protecting the person who could have been vaccinated? We were told to do our part and we did... we have been vaccinated.
"But their right not to be vaxed shouldn't trump my sister's right to have a visitor."
Kelly Raulino was rushed to the Health Sciences Centre with life-threatening injuries after a July 8 collision.
Raulino was in intensive care for the first few weeks, during which family could visit her because it wasn't clear whether she'd live. But when her condition stabilized and she moved to the step-down unit and given her second vaccine dose, visits were curtailed.
Then, after the two-week post-vaccine period ended, Raulino was again allowed visitors at HSC's Rehabilitation Hospital. That is, until she was put in the same room as an unvaccinated patient.
According to a Shared Health document released on June 18 fully immunized Manitobans with proof of vaccination could visit fully immunized patients in some indoor areas. Shared Health said that meant visitors could visit patients in their rooms as long as they maintained appropriate physical distancing, and as long as all patients there were fully vaccinated.
"... Their right not to be vaxed shouldn't trump my sister's right to have a visitor." — Sabrina Foxworthy
"If another patient in a shared room has not been fully immunized, another location for the general visitor and the fully vaccinated patient may be found if possible," says the document.
But Foxworthy said when her mother showed up last Tuesday staff didn't say anything about finding another location for a visit.
"They just said sometimes we have to put a vaxxed person with an unvaxxed person and then you can't visit," she said. "I just don't understand the logic behind this policy."
Raulino said a hospital nurse acknowledged the next day that a mistake had been made, and another place should have been found for the visit. They family says while they now are able to visit her, that could temporarily change again if an unvaxxed patient becomes her roommate.
"If another patient in a shared room has not been fully immunized, another location for the general visitor and the fully vaccinated patient may be found if possible." — Shared Health document released on June 18
She said she contacted the hospital's patient advocate, but is still waiting for a response.
A Shared Health spokesperson said Monday they sympathize with "the physical costs and mental burden" that patients and loved ones have been going through because of visitor restrictions during the pandemic.
"At every opportunity, guidelines have been reviewed by infection prevention and control experts to find a balance between the known risks of the virus and the important connections that patients and their loved ones need from each other," the spokesman said in a statement.
"Every visit to an acute care facility brings with it the risk of exposure or transmission of COVID-19, which is why acute care facilities continue to take measures to protect patients, many of whom are at greater risk of severe illness from the virus. As COVID-19 still remains a significant threat, some restrictions will remain in place for the time being and virtual connections continue to be promoted."
"We've been told she could be in hospital for months," Foxworthy said, "It adds to our stress to know this could happen again at any time. It's the constant unknown.
Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.