Message to our community from Tim Rutledge, President and CEO

To our patients, families, and members of our communities,

As the global outbreak of COVID-19 continues to evolve, your safety and well-being are our top priorities. This is a situation that is changing by the day and we know this can cause a lot of uncertainty and worry throughout our communities. I want to reassure everyone living in the areas we serve across Toronto that our health care teams are working hard to keep our communities safe and to ensure that we have the capacity to care for our patients.

We have been planning for months to make sure you are safe when you come into our hospitals. Your care providers will be using the right protective equipment to be sure you are not exposed to any infections.

On March 16, we opened two COVID-19 Assessment Centres, one at St. Joseph’s Health Centre and the other at St. Michael’s Hospital, that are designed to assess people with symptoms of mild respiratory infection.

Please note that not everyone with symptoms will be tested for COVID-19. Until capacity for COVID-19 testing is significantly expanded, we will be following criteria for testing recommended by Infection, Prevention and Control experts and Public Health. With the current capacity for testing, it is essential to reserve testing for certain high-risk groups, which includes health care workers and those working in settings susceptible to outbreaks, patients being admitted to hospital and patients in high-risk settings for spread, like long-term care homes and homeless shelters.

At this time, it is very clear is that there is community spread of COVID-19 in Toronto and in other parts of Ontario. Anyone with mild symptoms of a respiratory infection needs to self-isolate to prevent further transmission to others. This is true whether a person has tested COVID-19 positive or not.

We recommend that if you think you might have symptoms consistent with COVID-19, take a self-assessment or call Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000  for advice.

We have also made temporary changes to our visitor policy. As of Saturday, March 21 at 9 p.m., we are no longer permitting visitors (family or support persons) at any of our sites, including our Reactivation Care Centre. There will be limited exceptions including patients who are at end of life, critically ill, paediatric patients or women in labour and delivery. We will continue to screen visitors at the door. If any visitors fail the screening, they will not be allowed entry even if they fall under the list of exceptions. We are taking these precautions to protect the health of our community, our patients and our people.

We also need your help. We all have a role to play in preventing the spread of illnesses and infections. Please make sure you and your loved ones are following these precautions regularly:

  • Wash your hands often using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer or soap and water
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Frequently clean and disinfect touched objects and surfaces, such as door handles and mobile phones
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with your elbow or a tissue
  • Please do not visit the hospital if you are feeling unwell unless you need medical attention
  • Always remember to clean your hands before entering the hospital.

As this is a quickly changing environment, we will likely need to make updates to our processes and policies fairly quickly. Please keep informed of the latest information on our coronavirus information for patients and families so you know what to expect when coming to see us.

I want to thank you – our community members – for your understanding and support to help protect our patients, people and communities.

With gratitude,

President and CEO
Unity Health Toronto