Visiting a patient or resident

As of September 17, 2020, Unity Health continues to have a “no visitor” policy in effect, with exceptions for ‘Essential Care Partners’ in specific situations only. There is still no access for the public, or for visitors who are not approved by our units and clinical teams as Essential Care Partners.

Only pre-approved visitors may visit our patients inside and outside our sites. Learn how to be approved below.

These guidelines are in effect to limit the amount of people in our hospitals and reduce the potential spread of COVID-19.

We know having our loved ones near us when we’re in the hospital is comforting and can help us feel better. For this reason, we’re working hard to make sure our patients are able to have a family member or a support person visit.

As of September 17, all patients admitted to hospital may identify two essential care partners who can visit them during their hospital stay. The essential care partners should be from within the patient’s social circle, as defined by the Ontario government.  

Only one identified Essential Care Partner may visit a patient per day for a maximum of three hours. Essential care partners will be asked to select a visit time will choose to visit between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. at Providence, and between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. at St. Michael’s and St. Joseph’s to help manage the safe movement of staff, patients and others within the hospital. An Essential Care Partner must be approved and scheduled by the care team before visiting an inpatient or accompanying a patient to an outpatient appointment.  

There are some exceptions to the above for patients who are end-of-life, pediatrics, labour & delivery, neonatal intensive care unit and our emergency department.

  • Patients nearing the end of their lives within the next two weeks:
    • Each patient or Substitute Decision Maker will identify five essential care partners from within the patient’s social circle (based on government guidelines) who can visit daily
    • Additional Essential Care Partners may be approved beyond the five but must be within the patient’s social circle
  • Pediatric patients (18 years or younger):
    • May have two designated Essential Care Partners with them daily with no time limit.
  • Labour and Delivery:
    • Patients in our Labour and Delivery units can identify two Essential Care Partners and one can visit at a time with no time limit.
  • Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs):
    • Patients in the NICU can have two Essential Care Partners at a time with no time limit.
  • Significant developmental or Intellectual disability:
    • Patients who are unable to make care decisions and/or unable to effectively communicate may have two designated Essential Care Partners with them daily for a limit of three hours

To request and schedule a visit as an Essential Care Partner please use this list to contact the area or clinic where the patient is staying or where they will have their appointment in order to determine whether you qualify to visit.

Please do not come to the hospital if you have not been approved to visit

 

Please also note:

We are working every day to align our procedures based on the spread of COVID-19 in our communities and guidelines from Toronto Public Health and the Ministry of Health. Depending on the virus’ spread, we might need to scale back the amount of visitors, or we may be able to increase the amount of visitors by expanding our criteria for Essential Care Partner visits. Any updates to our procedures will be posted to the site you’re on now.

Please note that our phases are not tied to the province’s reopening phases and will look different since they are aligned with internal hospital activities.

Click on the boxes below to learn more about these topics.

What is an essential care partner and how do you become one?

Click here to open a printer-friendly version of this section.

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, an Essential Care Partner will be able to visit the patient while they are staying with us or accompany the patient to an appointment. Essential Care Partners help the patient with basic care needs, mental health and emotional support, and help us to organize the best quality patient safety and care.

In the third phase of our visitor reintegration at Unity Health, at a minimum every patient who has been in our hospital for longer than three days can have one weekly Essential Care Partner visit if they are pre-approved by the clinical care team.

There are exceptions for patients in the following situations:

  • Patients nearing the end of their lives within the next two weeks:
    • Each patient or Substitute Decision Maker will identify five essential care partners from within the patient’s social circle (based on government guidelines) who can visit daily
    • Additional Essential Care Partners may be approved beyond the five but must be within the patient’s social circle
  • Pediatric patients (18 years or younger):
    • May have two designated Essential Care Partners with them daily with no time limit.
  • Labour and Delivery:
    • Patients in our Labour and Delivery units can identify two Essential Care Partners and one can visit at a time with no time limit.
  • Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs):
    • Patients in the NICU can have two Essential Care Partners at a time with no time limit.
  • Patients with significant developmental or intellectual disability:
    • Patients who are unable to make care decisions and/or unable to effectively communicate may have two designated Essential Care Partners with them daily for a limit of three hours

The patient decides who they would like to request as their Essential Care Partner. This may be a family member, friend, paid caregiver, community support worker or other individual as identified by the patient.

If the patient is unable to identify their own Essential Care Partner, their Substitute Decision Maker can do so for them.

Every patient may have two identified Essential Care Partners. Generally only one Essential Care Partner can visit at a time, however, depending on the patient’s condition, they may be allowed more than one visitor at a time.

How do i get approval to visit my loved one?

Click here to open a printer-friendly version of this section.

Please use this contact list to find the phone number of the patient’s care team to contact them and request a visit.

The clinic team will ask you a series of questions including:

  • Your relation to the patient
  • Whether you have tested positive for COVID-19 and whether you have any symptoms
  • Whether you have had close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case
  • Reason for request (they may ask you whether you fit one of the categories listed below)
  • Whether you have already been approved as an Essential Care Partner for the patient when they were on a different unit, or for another patient in the hospital

The team will then process your request and let you know whether you are approved as an Essential Care Partner who can visit. They will work with you to book a time for a visit with the patient.

The unit/clinic team must approve an Essential Care Partner in advance of a hospital visit. Use this contact list to get in touch with the clinic/unit you hope to visit.

The clinic/unit’s decision to approve an Essential Care Partner is based on a number of factors. This process will help us make sure that we:

  • Have enough space in our hospitals to allow patients with critical appointments and treatments to physically distance, reducing any potential exposure to or spread of COVID-19
  • Can continue to increase our clinical services, allowing more patients to safely come to our hospitals without increasing risk
  • Are giving our clinical teams the ability to focus on reviewing and approving requests for Essential Care Partners for our patients who need the most support

Please do not come to the hospital if you have not been approved to visit.

The timelines depend on which clinic or unit the patient is in and the number of Essential Care Partners they can safely accommodate at a time in their space.

Please use this list to find the contact information for the unit/clinic where you would like to request a visit and ask them about their turnaround times for approvals.

No, please do not come to the hospital if you have not been approved to visit in advance.

At this time patients are only being supported to have visits with approved Essential Care Partners inside the hospitals. Visiting with anyone outside of the hospital is not supported. Outdoor visits are allowed only for residents at the Houses of Providence long-term care home (more information is at the bottom of this page).

If you have not been approved as an Essential Care Partner do not come to the hospital to visit with the patient outside.

Please use this list to find the contact information for the unit/clinic where you would like to request a visit.

Yes, please get in touch with the unit using this list to schedule a time to visit each time you hope to do so.

If you were not approved as an Essential Care Partner, it is likely because:

  • The patient already has their maximum amount of Essential Care Partners approved, or
  • You have symptoms of COVID-19 or have had recent, close contact to a positive case, or
  • You are not in the patient’s social circle, as defined by the Government of Ontario

If you feel you should be an 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:

It is important that we continue to limit the number of individuals entering our hospitals to reduce the opportunity for spreading COVID-19.

Our cautious approach makes it possible to act quickly depending on how the COVID-19 pandemic changes.

There is currently no timeline for our visitor restrictions – we are taking this slow but steady approach to ensure that everyone in our communities, including staff, patients and visitors, is safe.

No, anyone who has COVID-19 or symptoms of the virus cannot visit a patient. They should be self-isolating.

If you’re approved, your name will be added by the unit or clinic to a list of approved Essential Care Partners for the day of your approved visit.

At the entrance, there is a team of people screening everyone who comes in. They ask each visitor, patient and staff member whether they have symptoms of COVID-19, and a series of other questions. The entrance screening team will ask for your name when you arrive and for your identification.

This infographic outlines the screening process at our hospitals.

Depending on the area you are coming to, you may be asked to come at a scheduled time. We will give you an ID sticker and a mask when you arrive.

Staff on the unit/clinic you are going to will provide you with some of these instructions before you arrive, and some will be discussed once you get to the hospital.

Our hospital is safe for our patients, Essential Care Partners who visit, and staff. We are all working hard to ensure the safety and well-being of our patients and those providing care to them during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the steps we’ve taken include:

  • Limiting visitors and the number of people in the hospital
  • Checking and screening for symptoms of COVID-19 at entrances
  • Using masks and appropriate personal protective equipment
  • Putting physical distancing in place

This infographic outlines the key steps we’re taking to keep you safe.

 

All Essential Care Partners will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms prior to entering. This means that at the door, our staff will ask you a series of questions. You will also be asked to show identification.

If you pass the screening and enter our hospital, you’ll be asked to wear a mask, clean your hands frequently and maintain a physical distance of 2 metres from others when possible.

When you are visiting, please stay with the patient at all times (at the bedside or at their appointment) and do not visit other clinical or common areas of the building.

Here’s a helpful tip sheet for what we’ll need you to do once you are approved as an Essential Care Partner and while you’re visiting our hospital sites.

  • At Providence, please use the main doors at 3276 St. Clair Ave. East.
  • At St. Joseph’s, you can use Tranquility, Melnyk, East or Our Lady of Mercy entrances depending on where you are going. Information about when these entrances are open can be found online here.
  • At St. Michael’s, please use the Queen Street entrance at 36 Queen St. East.

We encourage you to wear your own mask when you enter the hospital and for your entire visit within the hospital. The mask must completely cover your nose and mouth. If you don’t have your own mask upon entry, you will receive a mask.

If you are visiting a patient who has special instructions for visiting:

  • You will need to wear a mask the unit/clinic team staff provide you on the unit
  • You may be asked to wear other protective equipment – the staff on the unit will provide you with this and show you how to put it on

Please clean your hands before putting on a mask and wear it properly at all times. This infographic outlines how to wear a mask properly.

As an Essential Care Partner you are requested to remain with your loved one in their rooms. You are not allowed to eat or drink while in the hospitals as this requires removing your face mask. We also request that you don’t visit our cafeterias, gift shop or lounges.

While you are in the hospital, use washrooms dedicated for Essential Care Partners only. Staff will inform you which ones to use.

This infographic has a step-by-step guide on how to wash your hands thoroughly.

In some cases, it may be beneficial for Essential Care Partners to help with some care activities (such as bathing, feeding and changing clothes). Ask the nurse about how you may assist and what safety practices are needed. 

Certain care activities (such as toileting, suctioning) are not permitted.

For COVID-19 isolated patients (positive, patients who are suspected to have COVID, or those who have been exposed), you are NOT permitted to participate in any care activities.

Depending on which unit the patient you are visiting is being moved to, you may not be able to stay with them. This will depend on their visiting times and current capacity for Essential Care Partners. The team will assist you in understanding the criteria for different inpatient areas while you are in the Emergency Department with your loved one.

To minimize opportunities for transmission of the virus, personal belongings and food are not to be brought in to patients. Some basic essential items are allowed. If the patient requires essential items, you or the patient can contact our Patient Relations team and they can arrange to have these items sanitized and delivered to the patient.

Food is not permitted into the hospital for patients at this time. This includes any prepackaged snacks or food. The only exceptions to this is culturally required food or specialty food necessary for the patient’s care plan and recovery that is not provided by Food Services, and has been approved by the health-care team.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we are discouraging the practice of having personal items and food brought into the hospital to reduce the opportunity for transmission of the virus. We do recognize there are some essential items that may support and comfort our patients. We have implemented a delivery and transfer policy for certain essential items. The items that will be accepted include:

  • Essential “bedside basics” for patients (i.e. walkers, hearing aids, mobile devices, toiletries, etc.)
  • Food that is culturally required and not provided by our food services

Items must be able to be wiped for disinfecting purposes or be in a bag or container that can be wiped and disinfected upon arrival at the hospital. If you would like to arrange for a delivery or pick-up for an item outlined above, patients or families can coordinate with Patient Relations to arrange deliveries/pick-up. Please contact Patient Relations about a delivery/pick-up before coming to one of our sites. Patient Relations can be contacted at each of our three sites as follows:

Please note: To drop off belongings you will need to pass entrance screening. We cannot accept items from a home under isolation, where there is a COVID-19 positive person or a person under investigation.

Patients and families can request a device to video call their loved one who doesn’t have their own device. Devices can be borrowed for up to 30 minutes at a time between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

  • Patients – Speak to your care team about how to request a device
  • Families and friends – Submit a video calling request to have a device delivered to a patient for a video call

At Unity Health we recognize family members and loved ones are integral to supporting our patients and residents. Get Well Wishes is an electronic message delivery system which allows family and friends the ability to send a personal message to a loved one who is admitted to one of our three hospital sites or is a resident in long-term care.

To send your best wishes, fill out this web form and we will print and hand deliver your message. This free service is available for patients at all of our sites as well as residents in the Cardinal Ambrozic Houses of Providence.

Our Gift Shops can arrange delivery of care packages with personalized messages to your loved ones who are admitted to St. Joseph’s and St. Michael’s. Please note that the cost will depend on what you choose to include in the gift.

Visit the following websites to learn how you can order a care package:

This service is not available at Providence Healthcare or the Cardinal Ambrozic Houses of Providence at this time.

How do i Visit a resident in the Houses of Providence?

Click here to open a printer-friendly version of this section.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have had to adjust our normal visiting guidelines to ensure the safety of our residents and staff. At the Houses of Providence, we are facilitating 30-minute, indoor and outdoor visits with residents and their loved ones (two visitors per resident each week). The dedicated visiting days are Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Each floor rotates dedicated visit days so all families have a chance to visit on a weekday and a weekend day.

  1. The Houses visiting team will provide you with time slots for your loved ones designated visit days, which is based on the floor that your loved one lives on
  2. Please email back at Houses.visits@unityhealth.to with the following information:
    • Your name
    • Your phone number
    • The name of the resident you would like to visit and the floor their room is on
    • Your top 3 time slots for the visit day when you would like to visit
  3. We will email you back to confirm one of those time slots and provide you with the additional information you will need (including a visitor form that must be signed and filled out prior to your visit)

Please note: we cannot guarantee you will receive your desired time slot. You will be guaranteed a time slot on your loved one’s allotted visit day and we will do our best to accommodate visitors’ wishes.

For outdoor visits, they will be weather permitting. If the weather does not cooperate, your visit will be rescheduled or may be moved indoors (only if the visitor(s) have negative COVID-19 test result(s) in the last 14 days).

  1. Visitor must pass screening upon arrival (including temperature check)
  2. Visitor must have completed & signed the visitor form upon arrival
  3. Visitor must wear a mask and perform hand hygiene
  4. Visitor must agree to abide by the following principles during visit:
    • Maximum two visitors only
    • No pets
    • No food or drink
    • No gifting items/dropping off items for residents (this must go through the regular process of calling the COVID-19 hotline to ensure the item is essential and approved)
    • No children may visit
    • No hugging or touching (physical distancing must be maintained throughout the visit)
  1. For indoor visits only – Visitor must attest to having a COVID-19 test within 14 days of the visit date and the result must be negative

If you have any further questions, please email back at Houses.visits@unityhealth.to or call the visit hotline at 416-400-1902.