COVID-19 Update – March 17, 2020- Message from our President and CEO

Message from SLMHC President and Chief Executive Officer, Heather Lee

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to change rapidly across the world, there are many actions being implemented to help prevent the spread of the virus. Your health and safety is paramount and we acknowledge that, with the many reports and rumours circulating in the public, it can be difficult not to become afraid or panicked by the uncertainty. However, in these unprecedented times it is imperative to be calm and stay well-informed with factual information.

I want to reassure each of you that our hospital and extended care unit are taking all precautionary measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Our website,, is updated as new information becomes available.

Entrances and Screening

As recently announced, we now have screening in place for everyone entering our facilities. The Emergency entrance, where our screening station is located, is the only entrance to the hospital at this time. All other entrances to the hospital will be locked at this time, including the link to the Hostel.

If you are staying at the Hostel and require help getting to the Emergency entrance, please make arrangements through the hostel staff.

Visitor Restrictions and Cafeteria Closure

Following recommendations from Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David William, the William B. George Extended Care facility implemented “essential” visitors only until further notice. Essential visitors are defined as those who have a resident who is dying or very ill.

Effective at the end of day today, the hospital site will be restricting all visitors to the hospital. This includes the closure of the cafeteria to the public.

Exceptions to allow one (1) essential visitor will be reviewed by the hospital administration in consultation with our Infection Prevention and Control Practitioner for a patient in labour, a pediatric patient and any patient at end-of-life.

This means that tomorrow, Wednesday, March 18, 2020, only approved essential visitors will be permitted to enter the hospital if they successfully pass the screening which is being done before entering the hospital at the Emergency entrance.

Our Patients and Residents

As reflected in a statement to residents and families of long-term care homes, from Family Councils Ontario and Ontario Association of Residents’ Councils, staff here at SLMHC also recognize that these decisions about visitor restriction are very hard on you. This statement/letter can be read by clicking here.

Many patients within the hospital are elderly and waiting for long-term care and many patients have conditions that make them extremely vulnerable. The decision to restrict visitors was a very difficult decision and undertaken with much compassion, empathy and consideration for the safety of everyone during these very uncertain times. Our first priority is the lives, health and safety of our patients, their families, our staff, physicians and our communities as a whole during this pandemic.

While I understand that you may be feeling very anxious and upset with visitor restrictions, I want you to know that this decision was not made lightly but to ensure that we help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and the potential loss of lives. I am asking for everyone’s full cooperation and understanding during this time.

Next Steps

We continue to work with our partners locally, regionally, provincially and nationally to ensure we are providing you with the most up-to-date information.  

We continue to urge the public to follow these steps to protect yourself and your loved ones:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Practice proper respiratory etiquette
    • Cough or sneeze into sleeve or tissue.
    • Dispose of tissue(s) immediately and wash your hands.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
    • Wash your hands first before touching your face.
  • Avoid contact with people who are ill. Practice social distancing- maintain a distance of six-feet between yourself and individuals who may be infected.
  • Stay home if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and call Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000 or the Northwestern Health Unit at 1-800-830-5978 for further direction.
  • Seek medical care if required. Disclose symptoms and any recent travel history.

At this time, Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre (SLMHC) has not received any reports of patients with COVID-19 in the hospital or at the extended care facility.

Further updates will continue to be provided as they become available.