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

No bucks for Ellison park expansion, ministry tells Vernon chamber

Vernon Chamber of Commerce vows to help government connect with potential funding partners to see Chelsea Estate purchased

COVID-19: Vernon fields and courts ready for booking

Local sport organizations will soon be able to get back out on the field for limited activities

$500 fine for Vernon man caught near Coldstream playground

Richard Slobodian, 58, served one night in jail and ordered to pay for breaching probation

Vernon firefighters showcase new rescue equipment

New tools helping VFRS make safer, swifter and more versatile rescue operations

House arrest for Vernon physiotherapist guilty of sexual assault

Stephen Witvoet to serve 18-month conditional sentencing following July 8 hearing

B.C. identifies 20 new COVID-19 cases, travellers specified in count

Pandemic total 3,028 cases, 51 people from outside Canada

Kelowna taxpayers could pay $90K for losses caused by cancelled Memorial Cup

$135,000 would be put aside for a potential bid for a future opportunity to host the tournament

Canadian policing organization calls for decriminalization of simple illicit drug possession

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police want policing focus of opioid crisis to be replaced with a health one

Motorcycle rider seriously injured in collision with vehicle on Highway 97 west of Pritchard

Chase RCMP report that motorcycle was attempting to pass when crash occurred

Predator mutilated cats in Kelowna: BC SPCA

The BC SPCA confirmed a mutilated cat was killed by a predator

LETTER: Former Summerland mayors speak out on solar project

Five former Summerland mayors sign name to short letter

Emergency crews conduct CPR on unresponsive person in Okanagan Lake

West Kelowna emergency crews are on scene at the shores of Jubilee Mobile Home Park

Filing deadline in RCMP sexual-harassment class-action extended due to COVID-19

Plaintiffs now have until January 2021 to submit claims for up to $222,000

Jamie Bacon pleads guilty to charge in Surrey Six case

The plea brings an end to a complex legal case that has spanned more than a decade

Most Read