Visitor Information

Starting on June 15, 2021, Unity Health will begin the first step in a new phased approach to reopening our hospitals to Essential Care Partners in accordance with guidelines from the Toronto Region. We recognize family members and loved ones are important to the healing and overall well-being of our patients. As such, the presence of Essential Care Partners (ECPs) continues to be a priority for Unity Health.

This first step will allow all inpatients with a length of stay greater than seven days to identify two dedicated ECPs. These two ECPs must remain constant for the duration of the patient’s admission. Each patient can have an indoor daily visit with one of the two ECPs for a maximum of three hours. Exceptions are being made for end-of-life, pediatrics, labour and delivery and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit patients.

Please speak to the clinical team caring for your loved one to further understand these exceptions.

All Essential Care Partners and visitors are strongly encouraged to have had their first COVID-19 vaccination to maintain the safety of our patients, staff and visitors.

Please do not come to the hospital if you have not been approved to visit. For more information about COVID-19, visit our COVID-19 page. For more information including exceptions to this rule, read our frequently asked questions below. 

As of June 15, Unity Health Toronto will allow all inpatients with a length of stay greater than seven days to identify two dedicated ECPs. These two ECPs must remain constant for the duration of the patient’s admission. Each patient can have an indoor daily visit with one of the two ECPs for a maximum of three hours.

Exceptions are being made for end-of-life, pediatrics, labour and delivery and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit patients. Please speak to the clinical team caring for your loved one to further understand these exceptions.

Providence Healthcare will continue to support outdoor visits for rehabilitation and complex continuing care and palliative patients at Providence.

Please note visitors who are not approved to visit any of our Unity Health Toronto locations will be asked to leave by our screening team.

Exceptions are being made for end-of-life, pediatrics, labour and delivery and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit patients. Please speak to the clinical team caring for your loved one to further understand these exceptions.

All Essential Care Partners must:

  • Have applied for, been accepted, and scheduled a visit as an Essential Care Partner, and
  • Be feeling well, and
  • Have not tested positive for COVID-19, and
  • Do not have a close contact who has tested positive for COVID-19

All Essential Care Partners and visitors are strongly encouraged to have had their first COVID-19 vaccination to maintain the safety of our patients, staff and visitors.

An Essential Care Partner is a member of a patient’s family, community or a friend who is already in the patient’s social circle. Once approved and scheduled by the team, an Essential Care Partner will be able to visit the patient while they are staying with us or accompany the patient to an appointment.

Patients staying at St. Joseph’s Health Centre, St. Michael’s Hospital or Providence Healthcare (not in the Houses of Providence), who have been in hospital for longer than seven (7) days may have two designated essential care partners. Each patient can have an indoor daily visit with one of the two ECPs at a scheduled time for a maximum of three (3) hours. The designated essential care partner must be the same two people for the duration of the patient’s stay in hospital.

If you are approved to visit, before coming please:

All Essential Care Partners and visitors are strongly encouraged to have had their first COVID-19 vaccination to maintain the safety of our patients, staff and visitors.

Outdoor visits are not permitted at St. Joseph’s and St. Michael’s due to limited outdoor space and the acuity of patients. Indoor appointments must be scheduled at these sites.

Providence

Outdoor appointments are permitted at Providence, starting June 8. Providence will begin supporting outdoor Essential Care Partner visits for rehabilitation, complex continuing care and palliative patients with a length of stay greater than seven days.

These visits will allow for a maximum of five people in attendance at one time, including the patient, one designated Essential Care Partner, one alternate Essential Care Partner and two visitors. This capacity limit aligns with the current provincial guidelines that support outdoor visits with five individuals. These outdoor visits will be weather permitting.

  • Visits will be scheduled seven days a week between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. for up to one hour in length. Scheduling will begin on June 7, with the first visits to take place on June 8.
  • Each inpatient must be deemed clinically safe to be outdoors and will be supported in having one outdoor visit per week.
  • Visits will occur in designated outdoor visiting areas at Providence Healthcare.
  • All Essential Care Partners and visitors must arrive 15 minutes prior to the scheduled visit time and will be screened upon arrival. Each Essential Care Partner and visitor must pass screening in order to visit a patient.
    • The two Essential Care Partners are to remain the same for the duration of your admission and are the same Essential Care Partners for indoor visits.
    • Children under 16 can visit as long as they are accompanied by an adult.
    • Children under 2 years of age are permitted and are in addition to the two Essential Care Partners and two visitors. Children under 2 years of age are not required to wear a mask
  • All Essential Care Partners and visitors are strongly encouraged to have had their first COVID-19 vaccination.
  • Essential Care Partners and visitors are expected to abide by physical distancing rules and follow appropriate hospital rules, such as screening before entering and wearing a mask. Visiting areas will be cleaned after each use to maintain the safety of our patients, staff and visitors.
  • If a patient wishes to schedule an outdoor visit with Essential Care Partners and visitors, please have the patient connect directly with their care team to request a visit.

Reactivation Care Centre

Outdoor appointments are permitted at the Reactivation Care Centre located at 4th Floor Tower B, 200 Church St. These outdoor visits will be weather permitting.

  • Each inpatient (or their SDM) can identify 2 Essential Care Partners (who remain constant for the duration of the patient’s admission and are the same ECPs for indoor visits).
  • One of the 2 ECPs may visit the patient outdoors once per week for a maximum of one hour.
  • Outdoor visits are available seven days a week between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m.
  • Indoor visits may continue as per current ECP guidelines but not on the same day as an indoor visit.
  • All Essential Care Partners and visitors are strongly encouraged to have had their first COVID-19 vaccination.
  • If a patient wishes to schedule an outdoor visit with Essential Care Partners and visitors, please have the patient connect directly with their care team to request a visit.

End-of-life Essential Care Partner visits have been modified to support patients with access to immediate family and/or persons of great importance to them.

If end-of-life is expected in less than two weeks:

  • Each patient may identify up to five ECPs where three may visit at any given time as long as physical distancing can be maintained.
  • No time limit and 24 hour access
  • Limited in and out privileges for nutritional support or in designated areas on unit
  • Accommodations will be made for those with children under 16 years of age

If end-of-life is expected in greater than two weeks or the person is in palliative care:

  • Each patient may identify up to two ECPs where two may visit together daily if physical distancing can be maintained.
  • No time limit
  • Limited in and out privileges for nutritional support or in designated areas on unit
  • Accommodations will be made for those with children under 16 years of age

Patients coming to hospital for an outpatient appointment or day surgery are not allowed to have an Essential Care Partner with them. A patient coming in for a clinic appointment or day surgery may have one Essential Care Partner accompany them only if the patient:

  • Has significant mobility issues requiring physical support getting to the appointment or for personal care
  • Has cognitive issues (e.g. dementia) that limit their ability to participate in their appointment
  • Has an inability to communicate verbally (e.g. patient uses non-verbal methods of communication)
  • Will receive a life-altering diagnosis at the appointment and/or important care decisions will be made during the appointment
  • Is under 18 years of age

Patients coming in to the Emergency Department cannot have a visitor accompany them unless the patient:

  • Is critically ill, is a trauma patient and or is at end of life patients, regardless of COVID status
  • Has a significant developmental or intellectual disability, cognitive impairment or unable to effectively communicate
  • Is under the age of 18
  • Is frail or elderly, requiring physical and or psychological support
  • Is experiencing an early pregnancy loss
  • Is experiencing a mental health crisis

If you are approved as an Essential Care Partner in the Emergency Department, and your loved one is moved to an inpatient area of the hospital, you may not be able to stay with them, depending on which unit the patient you are visiting is being moved to and the patient’s condition. The team will assist you in understanding the criteria for different inpatient areas while you are in the Emergency Department with your loved one.

At the Houses of Providence, there will be changes to visiting effective June 9 including:

  • Outdoor visits can consist of a maximum of five people (the resident, two outdoor visitors and two Essential Care Partners)
  • Residents with mobility limitations or health conditions that make participating in outdoor visits highly unlikely or impossible may have one general visitor at a time inside the long-term care home, in addition to an essential caregiver.
  • Residents who have been fully vaccinated can leave their long-term care homes for day and overnight social outings and trips.

At the Houses, ECPs provide direct care to residents, such as helping with feeding, mobility, hygiene, or cognitive stimulation. Note that this definition is different than an ECP in the acute care or rehabilitation hospitals of Unity Health.

Please contact your loved one’s care team for more detailed information about visiting at the Houses of Providence.

Once you have been registered as an Essential Care Partner (ECP), we ask that ECPs follow our safety procedures when in the Houses. It is important these processes are followed as we want to minimize the risk of spreading infection to our residents and staff. Procedures include:

  • Screening at the entrance to the Houses and COVID-19 testing. This is a requirement by the Ministry of Long-Term Care for indoor visiting.
  • ECPs should remain in the resident’s room. ECPs to ask staff if they require cultural food to be reheated, etc. The resident can be taken for walks outside of the building or in the gardens, but cannot leave the Providence premises.
  • We ask that ECPs do not take the resident to the common areas inside the facility. This is to support small group activities and physical distancing.
  • ECPs will wear a surgical/procedural mask and face shield at all times.
  • Meticulous hand hygiene must be maintained throughout the visit as well as adherence to all infection prevention and control requirements.
  • Six-foot distancing is not required for an ECP and their resident when wearing a mask and face shield, however, the caregiver must maintain six-foot physical distancing from all other residents and staff.
  • To ensure all ECPs are aware of the safety measures in place, the Houses team will be providing training to all ECPs.

  • St. Joseph’s Health Centre: There are several hotels, motels, and bed and breakfast accommodations located near to St. Joseph’s Health Centre. Please view a listing of nearby accommodations on Google Maps.
  • St. Michael’s Hospital: Several local hotels have special rates for patients, families and friends. Ask for the St. Michael’s compassionate rate when booking a room. Please view a listing of nearby accommodations on Google Maps.
  • Providence Healthcare: Please view a listing of nearby accommodations on Google Maps.

If you feel you should be an approved visitor or Essential Care Partner who can visit a patient but were told you do not qualify, you can request an appeal by contacting Patient Relations at the site where the patient you’d like to visit is located:

Connecting virtually is a great alternative to in-person visits. Please visit our COVID-19 page to learn more about virtual visits.

  • Call the unit the patient is on. You can find a unit by visiting our Clinic and Unit Contact Information page. The unit will ask you a number of questions, including your relation to the patient, whether you have COVID-19 or symptoms, if you have a close contact with COVID-19, and reasons for your request
  • The team will process your request and if approved, schedule a particular time to visit
  • Approval to visit and scheduling varies from unit to unit
  • You will need to call the unit to schedule a visit each time you need to visit

During the COVID-19 pandemic we are discouraging the practice of having personal items and food brought into the hospital for our patients. We do recognize that there are some essential items that may support and comfort our patients. With this in mind we will only accept i) essential “bedside basics” for patients and ii) food that is nonperishable and is approved as part of a patient’s care plan or if specific cultural practice requires outside food and drink. See below for process on bringing essential items and food to a patient.

Process:

If a patient requires an essential item to support them in hospital, these should be brought in by the designated Essential Care Partner (ECP) during their pre-approved/scheduled visits.

Alternatively, the following processes apply:

St. Michael’s Hospital and St. Joseph’s Health Centre Process

Bedside Basics can be dropped off with screeners at designated entrances.  Screeners will not accept approved food or cash. Please speak to the health care team about approved food or cash.

Designated entrances and hours:

St. Joseph’s Health Centre St. Michael’s Hospital
Our Lady of Mercy

10 a.m. to 7 p.m. – 7 days a week

Queen St.

10 a.m. to 7 p.m. – 7 days a week

Melynk

10 a.m. to 7 p.m. – 7 days a week

 

 

Providence Healthcare Process

Families must book an appointment for dropping off essential items by calling 416-285-3666 ext. 5902 or emailing: VisitorCentralBooking@providence.on.ca

Designated entrances and hours:

Providence Healthcare – Main Entrance

10 a.m. to 6 p.m. – 7 days a week

Permitted items:

Essential Bedside Basics for Patients

  1. Personal aides (walkers, canes, glasses, hearing aids, prosthetics etc.)
  • Communication aides (phone, charger, iPads, e-readers etc.)
  • Toiletries (new toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, feminine hygiene products etc.) Clothing as absolutely necessary (for a maximum of 3 days)
  1. Food – only food that has been approved by the care team as part of the patient’s care plan (i.e., specialized food/culturally specific food that supports the recovery of the patient and is not provided by the hospital) is permitted.

Note: Deliveries from external vendors (i.e. fast food, flowers, gift baskets) will not be accepted for any patient.

We discourage patients from bringing in cash or other valuables. In special circumstances where cash is required by the patient, this should be delivered directly to the patient by the ECP during a scheduled visit or arrangements will need to be made with the care team.

Last updated June 21, 2021