Frequently asked questions

We understand that the emergence of COVID-19 has caused some fear and uncertainty for people who need to come to the hospital for care.  We want to provide you with as much information as possible to assure you that you can continue to count on us for your healthcare needs.

The emergence of COVID-19 in Ontario has required all hospitals across Ontario to make a number of changes.  These changes mean that the way you or your loved ones access the hospital will be different from our usual practices. Together with our Patient Experience Advisors – teams of volunteers who bring the patient and family voice to the work we do at KHSC – we have created this information to help you understand the temporary changes that are in place. 

 

Coming to KHSC during COVID

What is Screening?

Screening is the process whereby we ask every person coming to our hospital – including patients, family members, staff, physicians and people delivering our medical and other supplies – to answer a series of questions before they enter that help us make sure that the risk of them being sick with COVID-19 or exposed to COVID-19 is low.  Click here to learn more about screening including a complete list of screening questions.

Which entrance should I use?

Each of our hospital sites now has specific entrances that must be used by patients and families.

At our Hotel Dieu Hospital site:

  • all outpatients and surgery patients should go to the main entrance on Brock Street for screening and entry
  • Patients going to the Urgent Care Centre (UCC) will be able to use the regular UCC entrance at Brock near Bagot St and will be screened upon entry.

At our KGH site:

  • All patients for the Cancer Centre and Renal outpatient program should go to the Burr entrance off King St for screening and entry
  • All emergency patients should go to the main emergency department entrance off King St. and they will be screened upon entry.
  • All other patients and families should go to the main Davies entrance off Stuart St. for screening and entry.

Why do I have to use hand sanitizer when I enter the hospital?

We know that washing our hands is one of the best ways to prevent us from moving germs from things we touch to our bodies through contact with our eyes, nose, mouth or face.  We ask everyone to wash their hands with hand sanitizer every time they enter our hospital.  You should also wash (using soap and water) or sanitize your hands again after touching surfaces, touching your face or mask, after coughing or sneezing, before eating, after using the washroom, or when hands look dirty.

Does KHSC practice universal masking?

In public, it’s recommended that you wear a face mask or covering when you can't maintain a safe physical distance (2 metres or 6 feet) from others.  However, our hospital environment is very different from public spaces like big box stores or coffee shops.  We have strict patient, staff and visitor screening policies and infection control measures in place, which means that the prevalence of COVID-19 inside the walls has been significantly lower than the community at large. We know, too, that COVID-19 transmission is much more common in a household environment, where there is typically sustained, prolonged exposure to the virus in a heavily contaminated setting.  This is not the situation at KHSC.  The risk of infection here is extraordinarily low.  We’re confident that the hospital is a very safe health care environment and that universal masking is unnecessary at this time.  We will adjust this practice based on changes in local prevalence of COVID-19 and on guidance stemming from COVID-19 surveillance in the province.

Am I required or allowed to wear my own mask if I am coming to any of KHSC’s sites for care?

If you are a cancer or renal patient coming to the hospital for care, you are required to wear a mask. If you do not have a mask of your own you will be provided one at the entrance. All other patients are encouraged to wear a mask or face covering of their own when they come to hospital for an appointment if they wish to do so.

 

Changes to Visitor and Family Presence Policy

What is family presence?

At KHSC, we believe that family members are not just visitors in a patient’s life – they are essential partners in care.  We use the term family presence to distinguish between a patient’s key loved ones (those whom a patient considers their family and who may be caregivers) from more casual friends and acquaintances such as coworkers, neighbours or others that might be considered “visitors”.

Why have we made these changes to our policy?

All Ontario hospitals were asked in mid-March by the Chief Medical Officer of Health of the province to restrict visitors (i.e. limit family presence) in order to help protect patients and staff from COVID-19.  It is important to reduce the number of people inside our hospital sites so that we can reduce the risk of infectious disease being spread and practice physical distancing to the best of our abilities. These temporary measures are still in place to help keep our hospital sites safe for our patients and our staff.  It is important that we reduce the risk of bringing COVID-19 into our hospital so that we can continue to provide care to patients from across our region.

Have other hospitals made similar changes?

Yes, most hospitals in Ontario have made similar changes to those we have made to temporarily restrict families coming with or visiting their loved ones who are patients. In some areas where there is higher prevalence of COVID-19 in the hospital or in the community, some hospitals have temporarily prohibited all family presence and visitors.

When will KHSC go back to the usual policy of encouraging family presence/visitors?

At this time, we do not know when we will be able to relax our current temporary restrictions on family presence or relax the requirements around physical distancing which require us to limit the number of people coming to our sites. There are also still people sick with COVID-19 in communities around Kingston and we care for patients from these communities.  We continue to monitor the prevalence of COVID-19 in our area, in the hospital and in the province as we make decisions, including those about family presence/visitors.  We are guided by our experts in Infection Prevention & Control and by recommendations or rules set by the Province of Ontario.

 

Questions about Inpatient Care (KGH site)

What do I do if my loved one in hospital needs items from home to support safe inpatient care? (e.g. eye-glasses, hearing aids, dentures, personal inhalers, rubber-soled shoes)

When you or a member of the care team in the hospital realize that an important device is required for safe care such as those listed above, the care team will contact a family member (or vice versa) and request the following:

  • A healthy family member who has not traveled outside the country in the past 14 days should place the item in its usual container inside a Ziploc or other sealed, clear bag that is clearly labeled with the patient’s name, room number, patient care unit, and phone number and deliver that to the Davies main entrance on Stuart St. at the KGH site. These items must be bagged and labeled before they are brought to KGH site.
  • When the item arrives, screeners at the front door will call the patient’s unit to request that a member of the team come to the lobby to pick up the item.  Where this can’t easily be facilitated, a porter will be asked to deliver the item to the nursing station.
  • When the item arrives at the nursing station and before the item is returned to the patient, we will clean the item with a disinfectant before it is given to the patient.

I would like to send home-made baking or other treats/snacks to my loved one who is a patient at the KGH site.  Is that allowed?

Unfortunately, we must temporarily ask families not to send any non-essential items in for their loved ones who are patients.  As we cannot easily clean baking or other gift items with disinfectant wipes and due to challenges delivering items to busy clinical units, and because we need to reduce the number of people coming to the hospital who aren’t patients, we cannot accept such items at this time.

My loved one who is an inpatient is bored without visits.  What can I do?

Staff on the units are able to request a free “diversion kit” from the KGH Auxiliary.  This includes newspapers or magazines, puzzles or colouring books.  If you would like to ask for a kit for your loved one who is a patient, please call the nursing station on your loved one’s unit to request a “diversion kit from the Auxiliary”.

My loved one who is a patient at the KGH site does not have a personal cell phone or iPad with them.  How can I keep in touch with my loved one when I am not able to visit?

There are many ways to stay connected to your loved ones while they are in the hospital. Click here to learn more about these options including our Virtual Visits program which provides patients with access to a tablet to make video calls with their friends and family. 

 

Questions about Outpatient Visits

My loved one has an outpatient appointment needs a wheelchair for their clinic visit. What should I do?

The staff in our front lobby can call a porter to take your loved on to his or her appointment safely and return them to the front entrance when their appointment is finished.  There is no charge for this service.  We ask that you make sure your loved one has your cell phone number so that we can call you when they are ready to be picked up again.  If your loved one cannot manage safely without an essential family member (e.g. has confusion or dementia or is very frail), one loved one should accompany the patient.

I am a family member or driver that needs to bring a patient to an appointment at Hotel Dieu, KGH or the Cancer Centre.  Where can I go when I am not allowed to come in?

Unfortunately, our temporary restrictions mean that you will need to wait outside of our hospital until the patient you have dropped off is ready to be picked up.  Please make sure that you and the person you have dropped off have each other’s cell phone number or a pre-arranged time to meet again outside an entrance.  

We have also temporarily installed porta-potties that are checked and cleaned daily in the following locations[ba1] :

  • at the main entrance of Hotel Dieu Hospital (Brock St),
  • at the main entrance of Kingston General Hospital i.e. the Davies entrance (Stuart St.) and
  • at the Burr entrance of the Cancer Centre at KGH (King St.)

I have an appointment scheduled at the hospital but am nervous about COVID-19. Is it still safe for me to come to the hospital?

Yes, it is safe for you to come to the hospital for care. We understand that COVID-19 may cause fear and anxiety for people in our community.  KHSC has a series of new procedures in place for patients and staff in order to provide the safest experience possible. If you have an appointment scheduled for you, it means that your care team has decided it is important to see you in person instead of postponing your appointment.

It is important to me to have my family member as part of the discussion with my care team at my scheduled appointment.  How can I make that happen if they are not allowed to come with me? 

We encourage you to talk to your care team about calling your loved one during your appointment so that they can be part of the discussion with you if you wish. We encourage you to bring a fully charged cell phone or device with you and to know the number of your loved one that you would like to call.

 

 

Where can I find more information?

For updates and status of the virus, you can visit:

KFL&A Public Health (this site includes a helpful list of Frequently Asked Questions)
Public Health Ontario
Public Health Agency of Canada
Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care