Health Minister Adrian Dix shared details of an amended essential-visitors policy Tuesday (May 19). The changes were sparked by the death last month of South Surrey’s Ariis Knight.(Contributed photo/Tracy Holmes photo)

Policy change sparked by death of disabled B.C. woman ‘will save lives’

‘Ariis’s Law’ expands definition of essential visitors in hospital

Ariis’s Law – expanding the definition of ‘essential visitors’ in hospital during the ongoing pandemic, to better support people with disabilities – has arrived.

READ MORE: UPDATED: Changes on way to policy on B.C. health care facility visitation

And while ‘Ariis’s Law’ may not be the official name for the changes introduced this week by Minister of Health Adrian Dix, for Doug Tennant, it simply makes sense.

“Ariis taught people a lot while she lived and has left a legacy even though she is now gone,” Tennant said Wednesday (May 20).

“I will be referring to this change as Ariis’s Law.”

Tennant is chief executive officer of UNITI, a partnership of three organizations – including Semiahmoo House Society (SHS) – that works to advocate for and support people with disabilities and their families.

Ariis Knight was supported by SHS for about a decade prior to her death last month at Peace Arch Hospital.

READ MORE: Hospital-visitor policy questioned after South Surrey woman dies without caregiver, family

The 40-year-old, who was non-verbal – but could communicate with those who knew her well – was admitted with non-COVID-19-related breathing difficulties on April 15. Due to hospital-visitor protocols in place at the time, however, none of her support workers or family members were allowed to accompany her, as they weren’t deemed essential.

Fraser Health officials said following her death that medical staff at the time determined assistance in communicating with Knight was not required.

Ultimately, Knight died without anyone who knew or loved her nearby.

Word of her experience sparked criticism and a call for changes to the policy. Much of the outcry was expressed by self advocates and their family members, who penned a letter to Dix, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction Shane Simpson and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, calling for a policy “that helps to make sure that patients with disabilities have the support they need when they are getting health care.”

In a May 19 communiqué to health authorities – signed by Henry and deputy minister of health Stephen Brown – the definition of essential visits was expanded to include visits “paramount to the patient/client’s physical care and mental well-being,” including assistance with feeding, mobility, personal care and communication for those with hearing, visual, speech, cognitive, intellectual or memory impairments; and “assistance by designated representatives for persons with disabilities, including provision of emotional support.”

Tennant said Wednesday he is “very pleased that the government listened and has finally made this change.”

“Ariis’s Law will increase the safety of people with disabilities in hospitals and will allow hospital workers to focus on the medical work that they do best.”



tholmes@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

CoronavirusdisabilitiesSurreywhite rock

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Comox Valley artist expands horizons through North Island College’s DIGITAL Design department

Submitted by NIC North Island College alumna Marlee Pestell is breaking into… Continue reading

85-year-old Comox sprinter competes in worldwide virtual track meet

Toronto was slated to be the host city for the 2020 World… Continue reading

City of Courtenay 2019 annual report available for review

The City of Courtenay has released the draft 2019 Annual Report highlighting… Continue reading

Scaled-down Comox Valley Exhibition set for Aug. 28-30

The Comox Valley Exhibition is a go for 2020. The annual event… Continue reading

Alberta to require masks at schools this fall, but still no mandate in B.C.

B.C. students are also set to return to classrooms in September

30% of British Columbians would ‘wait and see’ before taking COVID vaccine: poll

Some are concerned about side effects, while others don’t think the virus is a big deal

What exactly is ‘old growth’ B.C. forest, and how much is protected?

Forests minister Doug Donaldson doesn’t support ‘moratorium’

Don’t leave your hand sanitizer in the sun and other tips to stay COVID safe this summer

Being mindful of staying outside and keeping hand sanitizer, sunscreen out of the sun recommended

Canadians can travel to Hawaii in September; no quarantine with negative COVID test

Travellers will be required to pay for their own tests prior to arriving

Pay cuts, seating charts, COVID screening: How one B.C. venue is bringing back concerts

A growing number of bars and restaurants are welcoming back musicians under COVID-19 precautions

Crews work overnight to try to put out wildfire on Pender Island

Fire department and B.C. Wildfire Service crews extinguishing fire in ‘extremely difficult terrain’

Most Read