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

Mission asks public for feedback on proposed Tree Management Bylaw

Currently, tree removal and cutting can take place without a permit

UFV to launch Peace and Reconciliation Centre in Abbotsford

Online event on Sept. 24 features keynote speaker Bob Rae and Steven Point

181 days gone: Family continues to look for man last seen in Mission RCMP custody 6 months ago

Brandon Sakebow’s last known location was leaving RCMP holding cell, police say; family has doubts

Two employees test positive for COVID-19 at Mission Institution

Not outbreak, infected staff had no direct contact with inmates, Correctional Service Canada says

Fraser Valley foursome to hike 70km over mountains in memory of friend

Friends from Abbotsford and Langley to hike from Hope to Tulameen for Brook Morrison

Record-breaking 165 new COVID-19 cases diagnosed in B.C. in 24-hour period

Fifty-seven people are in hospital battling the novel coronavirus

One injured in South Surrey shooting

Shots reported in area of 194 Street and 34 Avenue

Report raises questions about COVID outbreak that killed 25 seniors at Langley Lodge

CEO defends leaked document that’s igniting queries about BC’s most deadly COVID outbreak

PHOTO: RCMP escort beaver across busy Chilliwack road

Motorists had to exercise patience as the slow-moving creature crossed several lanes of traffic

B.C.’s COVID-19 economic recovery plan: Top 5 things you need to know

Jobs training, tax incentives for employers to hire staff and more

March to protect old growth, stop industrial logging coming to B.C. Legislature

Organizers say they want to give frontline communities a bigger say in nearby logging

B.C. releases details of $1.5B economic recovery plan, $660M in business tax incentives

Economic plan includes support for employers, as well as training for workers

Most Read