Visitor Information

Visitor restrictions continue to be in place at Unity Health.

  • All visitors/Essential Care Partners and contractors (including vendors, delivery personnel/couriers) entering the hospital and most off-site clinical spaces are required to show proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 with government-issued photo identification.
  • Give yourself extra time when coming for scheduled appointments to allow for entrance screening and dress for the weather, as you may need to wait for a short time outdoors.
  • Contact your loved ones care team directly to book a visit.
  • Please do not come to the hospital if you have not been approved to visit.

As we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, please keep in mind this is still a challenging time for our staff, physicians, patients and families.

All of our staff, physicians and learners are guided by Unity Health Toronto’s mission to provide compassionate physical, emotional and spiritual care to all in need. We remain committed to providing our patients, residents and families with excellent, high-quality care.

One of the best ways we can help each other is to be kind and compassionate. We ask for your patience as we continue to work together to create the best care experiences for all those we serve.

Visitor/Essential Care Partner and contractor COVID-19 Vaccine Requirements

Throughout the pandemic, Unity Health has put various measures in place to protect our vulnerable patients and our people across our three sites, with the most important tool being immunization. Starting on Monday, Nov. 1, all visitors/Essential Care Partners and contractors (including vendors, delivery personnel/couriers) entering the hospital and most off-site clinical spaces will be required to show proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 with government-issued photo identification.

This policy is in alignment with policies at a number of hospitals in Ontario and is part of our commitment to providing the safest environment possible for care and healing.

This policy will does not apply to the Houses of Providence, which has a separate Essential Care Partner policy.

What visitors/ECPs/contractors will need to enter Unity Health locations:

  • One piece of government-issued photo identification ID (identification)
  • Proof of full COVID-19 vaccination (have received the full series of a COVID-19 vaccine or combination of COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Canada AND having received the final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days ago)
    To download or print your vaccination receipt, visit Ontario.ca/proofofvaccination or call 1-833-943-3900 between 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., 7 days a week.
  • Successful completion of symptom screening at the entrance

Exceptions to the proof of vaccination policy for Essential Care Partners who are not vaccinated will apply to the following situations:

Inpatients:

  • Patients facing end-of-life (prognosis 48 to 72 hours)
  • Patients with a new life-altering or critical illness as identified by clinical team in ICUs and select pre- and post-surgical procedures
  • A parent or guardian accompanying a patient under the age of 18 years
  • A person in labour

Outpatients:

  • Patient attending a high risk pregnancy clinic appointment
  • Patient attending an appointment where a difficult diagnosis will be shared
  • A parent or guardian accompanying a patient under the age of 18 years
  • Patient requiring support to safely attend an appointment due to dementia, significant developmental or intellectual delay, inability to effectively communicate or advocate for themselves or mobility issues that cannot be supported by the care team

Emergency Department:

  • Patient with life or limb-threatening conditions
  • Patient under 18 years of age
  • Patient who has a physical, cognitive or developmental disability, are unable to effectively communicate or advocate themselves  or have mobility issues that cannot be supported by the care team and may compromise their safety

Family Medicine/Family Health Team:

  • Parents and caregivers accompanying a patient to a family medicine and family health team appointment(s)

Other:

  • Children under the age of 12, who are not yet eligible for vaccination, are exempt and will follow our normal process for visitor approval.
  • Approved medical exemptions

We will continue to have an appeals process in place to support compassionate exemptions, where appropriate.

Visitor/Essential Care Partner policy

Unity Health is in the third step in a phased approach to reopening our hospitals to Essential Care Partners (ECPs). We recognize family members and loved ones are important to the healing and overall well-being of our patients. As such, the presence of ECPs continues to be a priority for Unity Health.

Guidance for inpatient visits to hospital

All inpatients may identify three designated ECPs. These three ECPs must remain constant for the duration of the patient’s admission. Two ECPs may visit within a 24-hour period either individually or together within a 3-hour designated visiting timeframe, so long as space supports safe physical distancing.

Visiting hours at Unity Health:

  • St. Joseph’s Health Centre: 8 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
  • St. Michael’s Hospital: 8 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
  • Providence Healthcare: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Please speak to the clinical team caring for your loved one to further understand how the third step affects you and your loved ones.

Guidance for outpatient, Emergency Department and day surgery visits to hospital

Patients attending the Emergency Department, outpatient appointments and day surgery are encouraged to come alone to assist in maintaining appropriate physical distancing. Patients accessing the ED and ambulatory appointments who require support for cognitive and physical reasons may bring a visitor/ECP with them. There may be times when the ECP in the Emergency Department or ambulatory clinic will have to wait outside to support safe physical distancing.

Guidance for visits to residents in the Houses of Providence

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.

Residents of the Houses of Providence who have been fully vaccinated can leave their long-term care homes for day and overnight social outings and trips.

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

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 these rules, read our frequently asked questions below.

FAQs about visitor/ECP and contractor COVID-19 Vaccine Requirements

As a hospital, it is our responsibility to do everything we can to protect our vulnerable patients and our people across our three sites. Throughout the pandemic, Unity Health has put various protective measures in place, with the most important tool being immunization. This policy is in alignment with policies at a number of hospitals in Ontario and is part of our commitment to providing the safest environment possible for care and healing.

Full vaccination against COVID-19 is defined as having received the full series of a COVID-19 vaccine or combination of COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Canada AND having received the final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days ago.

Starting on Monday, Nov. 1, individuals who are seeking to visit a patient at Unity Health but are not fully vaccinated will not be able to enter our buildings. Exceptions to the proof of vaccination requirement for visitors/ECPs who are not vaccinated will apply in the following situations:

Inpatients:

  • Patients facing end-of-life (prognosis 48 to 72 hours)
  • Patients with a new life-altering or critical illness as identified by clinical team in ICUs and select pre- and post-surgical procedures
  • A parent or guardian accompanying a patient under the age of 18 years
  • A person in labour

Outpatients:

  • Patient attending a high risk pregnancy clinic appointment
  • Patient attending an appointment where a difficult diagnosis will be shared
  • A parent or guardian accompanying a patient under the age of 18 years
  • Patient requiring support to safely attend an appointment due to dementia, significant developmental or intellectual delay, inability to effectively communicate or advocate for themselves or mobility issues that cannot be supported by the care team

Emergency Department:

  • Patient with life or limb-threatening conditions
  • Patient under 18 years of age
  • Patient who has a physical, cognitive or developmental disability, are unable to effectively communicate or advocate themselves  or have mobility issues that cannot be supported by the care team and may compromise their safety

Family Medicine/Family Health Team:

  • Parents and caregivers accompanying a patient to a family medicine and family health team appointment(s)

Other:

  • Children under the age of 12, who are not yet eligible for vaccination, are exempt and will follow our normal process for visitor approval.
  • Approved medical exemptions

For the protection of all our patients, we encourage everyone eligible for vaccination to be fully vaccinated.

Outpatient visitors/ECPs who are not fully vaccinated and need to accompany an outpatient who requires support for physical or cognitive reasons, please contact the outpatient clinic for next steps.

Inpatient visitors/ECPs who are not fully vaccinated can request an appeal by calling Patient Relations. The Patient Relations team will work with the visitor and the patient’s clinical unit on a case-by-case basis to understand the patient’s needs and alternative options. Appeals will be sent to the Appeals Committee for consideration. These decisions will not be made by our Screening team at the hospital entrance.

Individuals who would like to request an exception or accommodation are asked to contact Patient Relations at the site where the patient you’d like to visit is located:

Visitors/ECPs will be allowed to enter Unity Health if they have a written document from a physician or nurse practitioner outlining a documented medical exemption that meets the provincial criteria.

As children under the age of 12 are not yet eligible for vaccination, they are exempt from this process and will follow our normal process for visitor approval.

In alignment with Unity Health’s infection prevention and control (IPAC) standards, visitors/ECPs who are granted an exception but are not fully vaccinated must wear their mask at all times, practice proper hand hygiene and maintain physical distancing at all times. They will also be expected to go directly to and from the unit, and not visit any other areas of the hospital except to use the bathroom.

It is important to note that everyone at Unity Health must continue to follow the IPAC practices above, especially as there will be patients receiving care and individuals who are not fully vaccinated in the hospital with an approved exception.

If a visitors/ECP is partway through their vaccination regimen, or have other vaccine considerations (e.g. received vaccines not approved for use in Canada), please contact Unity Health’s Patient Relations team at the site where the patient you’d like to visit is located. Appeals will be sent to the Appeals Committee for consideration.

No. If a visitor/ECP/contractor cannot provide proof of vaccination, they will be considered as not fully vaccinated.

If you have received your COVID-19 vaccine and have misplaced your proof of vaccination, you can easily retrieve your confirmation receipt by visiting covid19.ontariohealth.ca and following the step-by-step instructions. This website works with most modern browsers on desktop and mobile devices. If you do not have a valid health card, please call the Provincial Vaccine Booking Line at 1-833-943-3900. This line is available 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., 7 days a week.

Unity Health will not be accepting proof of negative PCR or rapid antigen tests in place of COVID-19 vaccination records for entry at our hospitals. This aligns with the approach to mandatory vaccination in place at other public locations in Ontario.

It is important that Unity Health’s testing capacity is appropriately used for identifying symptomatic individuals. For the protection of all our patients, we encourage everyone eligible for vaccination to be fully vaccinated.

Visitors/ECPs/contractors will be required to show proof of full vaccination or a documented medical exemption to the Screening team at the hospital entrances. Our Screeners will be requesting proof of vaccination records for all ECPs/contractors, as well as screening for symptoms of COVID-19.

We recognize that we serve a very diverse community, and that some members of our community do not have access to technology to display their digital vaccination record or to print a copy of their proof of vaccination. Unity Health is committed to working with our visitors and our community, and will maintain as much flexibility and support for our ECPs as possible in determining proof of vaccination.

As the COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing, Unity Health will be maintaining our current third step in our phased approach to reopening our hospitals to visitors/ECPs.

This third step allows all inpatients to identify three designated ECPs. These three ECPs must remain constant for the duration of the patient’s admission. Each patient can have an indoor daily visit with two of the three ECPs.

Patients attending the Emergency Department, outpatient appointments and day surgery are encouraged to come alone to assist in maintaining appropriate physical distancing. Patients accessing the ED and ambulatory appointments who require support for cognitive and physical reasons may bring a visitor/ECP with them. There may be times when the ECP in the Emergency Department or ambulatory clinic will have to wait outside to support safe physical distancing.

FAQs about our Visitor/Essential Care Partner policy

All inpatients may identify three designated ECPs. These three ECPs must remain constant for the duration of the patient’s admission. Two ECPs may visit within a 24-hour period either individually or together within a 3-hour designated visiting timeframe, so long as space supports safe physical distancing.

Visiting hours at Unity Health:

  • St. Joseph’s Health Centre: 8 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
  • St. Michael’s Hospital: 8 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
  • Providence Healthcare: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Starting on Monday, Nov. 1, all Essential Care Partners (ECPs) entering the hospital will be required to show proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 with photo identification. Exceptions will apply for individuals with approved medical exemptions and visitors of specific patient populations. For the protection of all our patients, we encourage everyone eligible for vaccination to be fully vaccinated.

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

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.

Vaccine requirement exceptions
Starting on Monday, Nov. 1, all Essential Care Partners (ECPs) entering the hospital will be required to show proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 with photo identification. Exceptions will apply for individuals with approved medical exemptions and visitors of specific patient populations. For the protection of all our patients, we encourage everyone eligible for vaccination to be fully vaccinated.

Visitor/Essential Care Partner policy exemptions
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

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.

Inpatients staying at St. Joseph’s Health Centre, St. Michael’s Hospital or Providence Healthcare (not in the Houses of Providence), regardless of length of admission, may have three designated essential care partners. Each patient can have an indoor daily visit with two of the three ECPs at a scheduled time. The designated essential care partners must be the same three people for the duration of the patient’s stay in hospital.

If you are approved to visit, before coming please:

  • Bring the following items to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination:
    • One piece of photo identification
    • Proof of full COVID-19 vaccination (have received the full series of a COVID-19 vaccine or combination of COVID-19 vaccines approved by the World Health Organization AND having received the final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days ago)
      To download or print your vaccination receipt, visit Ontario.ca/proofofvaccination or call 1-833-943-3900 between 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., 7 days a week.
  • Before coming, check which entrance to by going to the preparing for your appointment section of this page
  • At our entrances, you will be screened. This poster outlines what steps you will need to follow, and the text version online here
  • Wear a mask to the hospital – if you don’t have one or need a different one, we will give you one

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 48 to 72 hours:

  • ECPs who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 may visit the patient
  • Note: the limits outlined below must continue to be met

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 attending day surgery and ambulatory appointments are encouraged to come alone to assist in maintaining appropriate physical distancing. Patients attending day surgery or accessing ambulatory appointments who require support for cognitive and physical reasons may bring a visitor/ECP with them. There may be times when the ECP will have to wait outside to support safe physical distancing.

Please contact the clinic to find out if you are able to bring an ECP to your appointment.

ECPs for day surgery and clinic appointments must follow our COVID-19 vaccinations requirements. If you are not fully vaccinated and you are the ECP for an outpatient who requires support for physical or cognitive reasons, please contact the clinic for next steps.

Patients accessing the Emergency Department are encouraged to come alone to assist in maintaining appropriate physical distancing. Patients accessing the Emergency Department who require support for cognitive and physical reasons may bring a visitor/ECP with them. There may be times when the ECP will have to wait outside to support safe physical distancing.

If space does not permit the presence of all ECPs, prioritization will be given to patients who are critically ill, experiencing a mental health crisis, at end of life, have a significant developmental or intellectual disability, cognitive impairment or unable to effectively communicate (i.e. language barrier), pediatric patients, frail/elderly requiring physical and or psychological support (i.e. falls prevention) and those experiencing an early pregnancy loss.

It is important to note that the one ECP present with a patient in the ED must remain constant for the duration of the patient’s ED visit. The ECP cannot change.

ECPs in the Emergency Department must follow our COVID-19 vaccinations requirements. Some exceptions to our ECP vaccination requirements apply to ECPs who are accompanying a patient in our Emergency Departments:

  • With life or limb-threatening conditions
  • Who is under 18 years of age
  • Who has a physical, cognitive or developmental disability that compromises the patient’s ability to advocate for themselves and make care decisions

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.

Residents of the Houses of Providence who have been fully vaccinated can leave their long-term care homes for day and overnight social outings and trips.

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:

Effective October 29, virtual visits will no longer be available at Unity Health Toronto until further notice. We apologize for any inconvenience this may pose and appreciate your understanding.

  • 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, if you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and reasons for your request.
  • If approved, the unit will share information with you on how to book a visit.

Essential Care Partners may bring essential items that support and comfort our patients. This includes i) essential “bedside basics” for patients and ii) food that is nonperishable or single serving.  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 at St. Michael’s Hospital and St. Joseph’s Health Centre:

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

Permitted items:

Essential Bedside Basics for Patients

  • 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)

Food for Patients

  • Essential Care Partners may bring in food for a patient so long as it is a single serving and does not require heating or refrigeration.
  • Patients may order food from an external source, however they must be able to go to the hospital entrance to pick up their food. Staff cannot support the delivery of food. Food delivery services are not permitted in the hospital.

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 November 23, 2021