Visiting a patient in Critical Care

We have many safety precautions in place to protect our patients and staff from COVID-19 including limits on family presence, screening at entry points, and use of masks or face coverings. Click here to learn more.

Families are important members of the health-care team, so we welcome you in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Because many of the patients in the ICU are too ill to talk about their conditions, we are grateful for the information family members can share with us. This information helps us provide care and we welcome suggestions about how to comfort your family members. You are encouraged to spend time with your loved ones and take part in their care.

Who can visit

Family members and very close friends may visit patients in the ICU. The patient or a spokesperson for the patient should identify visitors the patient would want to see. These names will be noted on the patient's file. If you are from out of town and you will be visiting a patient in the ICU for an extended period of time, you can read more about places to stay in Kingston.   

To ensure patient privacy and with respect to other families in the ICU, we limit the number of visitors so that no more than two people are visiting a patient at one time. However, you may occasionally notice that some patients have more than two visitors in their rooms. This is done in special circumstances due to the patient's level of illness, or for pediatric patients. Please note that visitors, at times, may be asked to leave the ICU. This may be done in the patient's best interest if their condition has changed. Patient care is always our utmost priority.

Visiting hours

We no longer have specific visiting hours and family members are welcome at any time, with the exception of "handover" time (see below). There are also no restrictions on how long you can stay with your family member in the ICU. We encourage shorter visits to allow patients time to rest and recover. Depending on your family member's condition, our staff may have a conversation with you to determine the best time and length for your visits. Also, remember this is a stressful time for you as well. It's important for you to take time to care for yourself. 

"Handover" time visiting restrictions:

During the times below, patients in our ICUs have very complex medical needs that we are working hard to support while also addressing staffing challenges. For those reasons and to help our health-care teams provide the best care possible, we are temporarily restricting family presence at “handover” time, when on-duty nurses transfer care for patients to incoming nurses. 

Effective immediately, visitors are not permitted from 7-8 a.m. and 7-8 p.m. daily.  Having these times available to focus entirely on the handover means that:

  • nurses can complete a safe, accurate, uninterrupted handover and properly assess patients
  • nurses become more familiar with patients and their care assignment for the shift
  • the chance of error due to interruptions is reduced
  • family members receive accurate information when they arrive to visit their loved ones

In some circumstances, there will be exceptions to these visiting restrictions, e.g., if a patient is imminently dying or there are language barriers. Please be assured that the Critical Care teams on Kidd 2 and Davies 4 will carefully review any request for an exception. If you have questions about this temporary visiting restriction, please speak with your care team. 

Children in the ICU

Visiting the ICU can be an overwhelming experience for adults, so careful consideration should be given to whether or not it is appropriate for a child to visit a patient in the ICU. If you would like your child to visit a patient, please plan ahead and speak with the nurse. A social worker is also available and can provide tools to help you explain to your child what to expect in the ICU. We also have child life specialists who can help support a child when they visit their family members in the ICU.

Pets in the ICU

We welcome family pets in the ICU because we understand the comfort that they can bring to a patient. Please speak to your family member's nurse ahead of time so they can plan ahead for your pet to visit the ICU.   

What can I bring to the ICU?

We encourage you to bring sentimental items such as pictures and comforting items such as a pillow, blanket or personal care products for patients in the ICU. This can help make the unfamiliar environment more comfortable. If there is something that you would like for your loved one to have at their bedside please speak to their nurse.

Please do not bring plants, flowers, or latex balloons into the ICU.