COVID-19: Information Regarding Patient Escorts
March 26, 2020
26 March, 2020
UPDATED OCTOBER 27 2020:
The Ministry of Health has updated their direction to hospitals relating to visitor policies. They are encouraging facilities to be more flexible in allowing family/caregivers and other types of visitors while reinforcing public health measures and following infection prevention and control practices. As a result, Ornge is modifying its policy related to escorts.
Until further notice, patient escorts will be limited to the following:
- A parent or legal guardian accompanying a child (under 18 years of age);
- An escort who is providing clinical care for a patient (medical escort);
- An escort accompanying a labouring patient;
- An escort accompanying a patient where end of life is imminent;
- An escort that has no other reasonable means to travel to the receiving facility;
- A patient interpreter, designated by the sending facility; or
- An escort, such as a Police Officer deemed necessary for in-flight safety or maintenance of custody as required.
Only one (1) escort shall be permitted to accompany the patient provided they meet the screening criteria.
Upon receiving a request for an escort to accompany a patient:
Any escort travelling with a patient must wear a mask for the duration of the transport. These changes have also been made within the Escort ticket in FV.
- The escort must be screened using the existing screening questions;
- If the escort screens positive, Ornge will decline to take the escort unless listed in the exception noted in Escort Screening below;
- If the escort screens negative, OCC staff shall confirm if the receiving hospital will permit the escort and inform the patient of the hospital’s policy. In the case where an escort will not be permitted into the hospital but still wishes to travel with the patient, OCC staff shallconfirm the escort is aware of the refused admittance and that, additionally, the local ambulance service may not allow the escort to travel with them from the airport into the community.
All approved escorts will be screened for COVID-19, using the same screening questions as PTAC. The “Escort” ticket in Flight Vector includes a screening tab to record the answers. Should an escort fail the screening procedure, they will be advised that they will not be permitted to travel with the Ornge aircraft/vehicle and would not be permitted admittance to the receiving facility. They should be advised to source an alternate escort. The only exceptions to this are for paediatric patients and labouring obstetrical patients. If an escort wishing to accompany one of these patients fails screening, they may
be permitted to board the aircraft/vehicle only after the following are confirmed:
- There is no reasonable alternate means for the escort to travel to the receiving facility;
- The TMP and OCM have reviewed the case and confirmed that the escort is deemed essential; and
- The receiving facility has been contacted, advised of the failed screening status of the escort AND confirms that the escort will be permitted to accompany the patient in the hospital despite the failed screening status.
Paramedics shall utilize appropriate PPE when transporting an escort who has failed the screening process.
Ground Transport Limitations
Paramedics should be aware that due to varying local circumstances across the province, municipal EMS escort transport policies may vary. Escorts who have met Ornge criteria for transport may be refused transport in a land ambulance based on local policy. Local policies should not deter the escort from accompanying the patient for the Ornge portion of the journey. Ornge paramedics should ensure that escorts are aware before departure from the sending location so that they may be required to secure transport such as by taxi if they are denied transport in the local land ambulance. Ornge paramedics should coordinate with OCC to determine if local EMS policies preclude the transport of escorts. All such occurrences should be undertaken with the utmost compassion and professionalism.
These temporary measures are being implemented to protect the patient, community and all Ornge crew members. They are subject to change depending on the evolving circumstances in responding to COVID-19. We sincerely thank you for your understanding.