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

Ben Williams, second from left, receives the Rotary Club of Duncan Student of the Month Award for September from club president Gregg Perry and Student of the Month program coordinator Kim Barnard. To the left is teacher sponsor Tom Veenstra. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Duncan Christian standout is Rotary Student of the Month for September

Ben Williams has made an impression at DCS since day one

Cowichan LMG’s Michael Fusick plows through a Nanaimo defender during last Friday’s game at the Sherman Road turf. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Depth a concern for Cowichan LMG

Div. 1 club expecting reinforcements soon

The City of Duncan is applying to the province for a grant that would cover most of the costs of the new Cairnsmore roundabout that is planned the intersection of Government, College and Cairnsmore streets. (File photo)
City of Duncan looking to grant to cover cost of Cairnsmore traffic circle

Federal government would cover 60%, province would pick up the other 40%.

Angie Fournier. who served as office coordinator for the Cowichan Lake Community Services, stands with the society’s community bus in this picture. (File photo)
Community Service Society vital for Lake Cowichan

Dozens of programs and other services offered

Premier John Horgan and Rob Douglas, BC NDP candidate for Cowichan Valley, meet with Cowichan First Nation elders, as they demonstrate spearfishing along the river. (Submitted)
Horgan acknowledges A&E sector hit hard by COVID-19, but showing signs of recovery

Hollywood North doing better than Hollywood South, Horgan says

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

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

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

Most Read