FOR PATIENTS AND VISITORS: Masks and entrance screening are still required for all patients and visitors at Unity Health. Learn more about our current restrictions for visitors.

FOR URGENT VIRTUAL CARE: Information about Toronto’s Virtual Emergency Department

Visitor Policy

Visitor/Essential Care Partner policy

Our mission at Unity Health is to provide compassionate physical, emotional and spiritual care to all in need. 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. Unity Health will be increasing the presence of Essential Care Partners (ECPs) at our sites effective April 19.

Please note: All Essential Care Partners (ECPs) entering the hospital are required to show proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 with photo identification. For more information, please visit our Visitor/Essential Care Partner and contractor COVID-19 Vaccine Requirements page.

Guidance for inpatient visits to hospital

St. Joseph’s, St. Michael’s and Providence:

  • Each inpatient may identify three designated ECPs where two ECPs may visit within a 24-hour period. The ECPs must remain constant for the duration of the patient’s admission. Please speak to the clinical team caring for your loved one to register as a designated Essential Care Partner.
  • Designated ECPs may visit for as long as they like within the hospital’s designated visiting hours.
  • Exceptions may be made in rare circumstances.

Visiting hours at Unity Health:

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

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

Patients may have one ECP accompany them to outpatient, Emergency Department and day surgery visits.

Space in our waiting rooms is prioritized for patients. If space permits, we will support the presence of ECPs in the waiting room. ECPs may be asked to wait outside if the waiting room reaches maximum capacity.

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.

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 our Visitor/Essential Care Partner policy

Effective Tuesday, Feb. 22, each inpatient may identify three designated ECPs where two ECPs may visit within a 24-hour period. The ECPs must remain constant for the duration of the patient’s admission. Exceptions may be made in rare circumstances.

Starting Monday, March 28, we are removing the three-hour limit for inpatient ECP visits. Designated ECPs may visit for as long as they like within the hospital’s designated visiting hours.

Visiting hours at Unity Health:

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

Exceptions may be made in rare circumstances.

Vaccine requirement exceptions
All Essential Care Partners (ECPs) entering the hospital are 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.

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.

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. Please speak to the clinical team for further details.

If you meet all other visitor requirements, you may visit a COVID-19 positive patient. When visiting, you will be required to follow strict infection prevention and control practices, including wearing personal protective equipment as directed, to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

As the weather improves, we anticipate that some Essential Care Partners (ECPs) and patients may want to go outside on Unity Health grounds during their visits. If unit staff determine it is clinically appropriate, inpatients and ECPs are permitted to go outdoors on Unity Health grounds together during their visit.

These are the expectations for ECPs and inpatients having an outdoor visit:

  1. ECPs are expected to complete entrance screening inside the building.
  2. Once they have completed entrance screening, they should go to the unit their loved one is staying on.
  3. If unit staff determine it is clinically appropriate for the patient to go outdoors, ECPs may then accompany their loved one outdoors.
  4. ECPs are expected to accompany their loved one back to the unit at the end of their visit.

Only designated Essential Care Partners (ECPs) can have outdoor visits with loved ones staying at a Unity Health location. Individuals who have not been approved as designated ECPs are not permitted to have outdoor visits.

Patients may have one ECP accompany them to day surgery and clinic appointments

Space in our waiting rooms is prioritized for patients. If space permits, we will support the presence of ECPs in the waiting room. ECPs may be asked to wait outside if the waiting room reaches maximum capacity.

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 may have one ECP accompany them to the ED.

Space in our waiting rooms is prioritized for patients. If space permits, we will support the presence of ECPs in the waiting room. ECPs may be asked to wait outside if the waiting room reaches maximum capacity.

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.

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:

  • Testing of all staff, students, volunteers, and ECPs, regardless of vaccination status
  • Requiring a negative test upon entry to a long-term care home for all ECPs and support workers who provide essential services to a resident or to the facility
  • Caregivers will be required to have a first dose COVId-19 vaccination by December 20, 2021 have a second dose by February 21, 2022. Proof of a third dose will be required by March 14, 2022.
  • Limiting indoor visits to a maximum of two people per resident at a time and outdoor visits, where feasible, to a maximum total of four people per resident at a time.
  • Screening at the entrance to the Houses. This is a requirement by the Ministry of Long-Term Care for indoor visiting.
  • 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:

With the increase in ECP presence at Unity Health, Unity Health will be ending the centralized Virtual Visiting program for inpatients and families on Tuesday, Feb. 22.

  • 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 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. Joseph’s Health Centre, St. Michael’s Hospital and Providence Healthcare:

  • Bedside Basics can be dropped off with screeners at designated entrances.
  • Screeners will not accept approved food or cash.
    • 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.
St. Joseph’s Health Centre St. Michael’s Hospital Providence Healthcare
Garron Our Lady of Mercy

10 a.m. to 7 p.m., daily

 

Donnelly (Queen St.)

10 a.m. to 7 p.m., daily

 

Main Entrance

10 a.m. to 7 p.m., daily

 

Melynk

10 a.m. to 7 p.m., daily

 

NOTE: At Providence, items can be dropped off 7 days a week but will only be delivered to patients Monday through Friday. Items dropped off over the weekend will be delivered the following Monday.

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 are permitted to leave their room to eat in the hospital cafeterias and food outlets, if permitted by their care team. They must eat within designated areas in Unity Health’s cafeterias.
    • Patients are not permitted to use the staff, physician and learner eating area. Signage is up to indicate the appropriate areas for each group.
    • Everyone is required to maintain a physical distance of 2 meters in the cafeteria seating areas.
  • Patients are permitted to order food from an external source, including from delivery services. Patients who order food from an external source must be able to retrieve their food from the front entrances.
    • Staff are not able to support in the delivery of food.
    • Food delivery services are not permitted to enter the hospital

Last updated May 05, 2022