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)

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

COVID cases in the Bella Coola Valley have dropped to just four active cases (file photo)
Active COVID cases drop to four; schools re-open for face-to-face instruction

A total of 63 cases were recorded with 59 now out of isolation

People skate on a lake in a city park in Montreal, Sunday, January 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
The end of hugs: How COVID-19 has changed daily life a year after Canada’s 1st case

Today marks the one year anniversary of COVID-19 landing in Canada

Joyce Cooper (left) said she had to set an example for Tsilhqot’in communities by sharing her COVID-19 positive results. (Photo submitted)
Tsideldel off-reserve member documents experience of COVID-19

We should all be supporting one another and not judging each other, says Joyce Cooper

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Employers might be able to require COVID-19 vaccination from employees: B.C. lawyer

‘An employer must make the case’ using expert science, explains lawyer David Mardiros

Nuxalk Public Health Nurse Sophie Mack is all smiles as she vaccinates her dad, hereditary chief James Mack Sr., with his first dose of the Moderna vaccine (photo submitted)
Cases drop as vaccine continues to roll out in Bella Coola

Seniors at Mountain View Lodge, Nuxalk elders, hospital staff and long-term care residents have all started to receive their vaccines so far

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
Canadian, American rescue crews searching for missing aircraft in waters near Victoria

The search is centered around the waters northeast of Port Angeles

Jonathon Muzychka and Dean Reber are wanted on Canada-wide warrants. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Convicted killer, robber at large after failing to return to facility: Victoria police

Dean Reber, 60, and Jonathon Muzychka, 43, may be together

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Surrey RCMP are investigating after a pedestrian was struck and killed at 183 Street and Highway 10 Friday night. (File photo)
Modelling of predicted transmission growth from the B117 COVID-19 variant in British Columbia. (Simon Fraser University)
COVID-19 variant predicted to cause ‘unmanageable’ case spike in B.C: report

SFU researchers predict a doubling of COVID-19 cases every two weeks if the variant spreads

The Brucejack mine is 65 km north of Stewart in northwestern B.C. (Pretivm Photo)
B.C. mine executives see bright gleam in post-COVID future

Low carbon drives demand for copper, steelmaking coal

Most Read