Visitor Information

Starting on July 19, 2021, Unity Health will begin the third step in a new phased approach to reopening our hospitals to Essential Care Partners. 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 third step will allow 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. In addition, outpatients may request to have an ECP to accompany them to an ambulatory appointment. There are also new guidelines for access to food for inpatients, ambulatory patients and ECPs.

Important note: Requests to accompany a patient to their appointment are dependent on space in the clinic. We are committed to maintaining physical distancing in our patient rooms and waiting areas. Although we will do our best to support these essential visits, there may be times when we cannot accommodate ECPs due to the need to maintain physical distancing.

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

All Essential Care Partners 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 July 19, Unity Health Toronto will allow 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.

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

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.

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:

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.

As of July 5, these visits will allow for a maximum of eight people in attendance at one time, including the patient, one designated Essential Care Partner, one alternate Essential Care Partner and up to five visitors, space permitting. This capacity limit aligns with the current provincial guidelines that support outdoor visits. 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 two 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 two 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

If there is enough space in waiting areas and clinic spaces to permit safe physical distancing, we will support one ECP accompanying a patient who is coming to hospital for an outpatient appointment or day surgery.

We are committed to maintaining physical distancing in our waiting areas and clinics. This may mean that we cannot always support the presence of ECPs for outpatient appointments.

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

Permitted there is enough space to maintain physical distancing, all patients coming in to the Emergency Department may have one ECP visitor accompany them.

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

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:

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

If essential items and food need to be dropped off outside of a scheduled ECP visits, 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

  • 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 July 30, 2021