Mental Health, Human Contact and Covid-19

We have moved into a Code Red protocol and a whole new set of controls are now part of our lives in dealing with Covid-19.  What that means is that for those who are resident in some kind of health care facility, they can’t have any visitors.  This is very hard for those who live there and it’s hard for those who want so dearly to be part of the lives of people in care. 

Prior to this, we were still in a code-rating where we could go visit but with some significant restrictions.  Our hope of course, is that we can move out of Code Red and even more, that a vaccine will become widely available that will reduce or eliminate the need for any restrictions.  Till then, this is our life.

Early on during this pandemic, institutions where long-term care was being provided, developed a plan in which loved ones could come visit residents.  It required that the resident and the visitor remain separated and that entry and exit from that visiting location also be separate.  Instead of trying to figure out a way to make that possible within the larger building, Visiting Pods have been developed and have been deployed to long-term care facilities, most notably to personal care homes around the province.  These are being provided by the province as part of our health care service and requires no financial investment by the facility to acquire one or more of the pods.  This has been such a benefit in reducing the isolation being felt by those living in the homes.

Facilities that are not long-term care do not receive a visiting pod.  That is the case with Eden Mental Health Centre.  The focus of the hospital is to provide an appropriate level of mental health care and as soon as practicable, return the person back to their family and the community.  The length of stay can be short; like a few days or a week, to a lengthier stay that involves a number of weeks or longer.  Regardless of the time length, there is significant stress to not having any contact with loved ones who have a concern for someone in care at EMHC.  Even under Code Orange or Code Yellow, visiting wasn’t possible because EMHC does not have a visiting pod.

It has been the decision of Eden leadership that this is an untenable situation.  Isolation and separation do not enhance one’s well-being but rather has a tendency to exacerbate a mental illness.  As a result, EMHC has taken it upon itself to build a visiting pod, even though there is no provincial support in paying for the structure or any of the costs associated with maintaining it.  As is part of the nature of our community, if there is a need.

Personnel at Eden have connected with numerous businesses in the area and because of their good relationship with the business community have determined that a visiting pod can be installed at EMHC at an approximate cost of $25,000; a fraction of the cost of those being provided by the provincial government.

The reality however, is that the budget for EMHC is controlled and funded by the provincial government and it does not have a savings account from which to draw to pay for this build.  It then falls on the overall organization to find the resources to pay for the cost of construction and maintenance of a Visiting Pod that will be connected to our existing building and will meet the requirements of the restrictions related to safety protocols required as a result of Covid-19. 

The Visiting Pod will be built to MSTW standard, all required health standards and will be attached to EMHC’s main building without interfering or jeopardizing the protocols already in existence at the hospital.  If and when Covid-19 is no longer a threat, the Visiting Pod will be repurposed to act as a space for families and friends to gather in a more private space currently not available in the mental health centre.

The request of the Eden organization is that you would consider making a tax-deductible donation for the purpose of constructing a Visiting Pod at Eden Mental Health Centre.  You can make a secure on-line donation directly connected to Eden Foundation by filling in the form below. 

A donation made by mail is also very welcome.  Please send your cheque to:

Eden Foundation
Box 129
Winkler, MB R6W 4A4
In the note section indicate “Visiting Pod”