Frequently Asked Questions - COVID-19

We understand that the COVID-19 can cause 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.

COVID-19 has required all hospitals across Ontario to make a number of changes that mean the way you or your loved ones access the hospital are now 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.

Skip ahead to questions about: 
Coming to KHSC during COVID-19
Changes to our Visitor and Family Presence policy 
Inpatient Care at KGH site 
Outpatient Visits
Surgeries and Procedures
 

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. To learn more about screening including a complete list of screening questions, click here.

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 Street near Bagot Street 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 Street for screening and entry.
  • All Emergency patients should go to the main Emergency Department entrance off King Street and they will be screened upon entry.
  • All other patients and families should go to the main Davies entrance off Stuart Street 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?

Yes.  Anyone coming to KHSC as a Visitor of an admitted patient or as Caregiver accompanying a patient to an outpatient clinic/procedure appointment must wear a hospital-issued mask. All staff, physicians and learners must also wear a hospital-issued mask at all times in all clinical and non-clinical areas.  You will be provided with a mask upon entry.

Changes to Visitor and Family Presence Policy

What is family presence?

KHSC respects and values family (as defined by the patient) as integral partners in providing excellent patient care.  In terms of our visiting policy during the pandemic, family presence refers to both (a) "Visitors," those individuals registered to visit admitted patients, including those support persons who are involved in the patient care plan and whose presence is considered essential to the safety and well-being of the patient and (b) "Caregivers," those persons selected by patients to accompany them to their clinic appointment or outpatient procedure.  The number of Visitors or Caregivers in the hospital has varied throughout the pandemic based on the number of COVID-19 cases in our community, local outbreaks and vaccination rates.

Why have we made these changes to our policy?

Throughout the pandemic it has been 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.

Is the KHSC family presence policy aligned with a provincial directive?

There is currently no provincial directive.  Hospitals are responsible for developing and implementing the safety strategies and policies that work best for their patients, family, staff and community.  At KHSC we have developed our own policy with the guidance and expertise of our infection prevention and control team and in consultation with our Patient and Family Advisory Council.  It’s an evolving policy but our goal is always to balance compassion, clinical need and safety.

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

At this time, we do not know exactly when we will return to our pre-pandemic family presence policy. There are 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.

Are there exceptions to the family presence policy?

Exceptions can be made in various instances, e.g., for patients who are actively dying, patients whose safe care relies on having a family member present, pediatric patients and others.  Those exceptions and how they are determined are listed here.  A patient’s clinical team has some flexibility in adjusting the family presence policy based on the clinical needs and well-being of the patient. 

Questions about Inpatient Care (KGH site)

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

We do not allow eating/drinking at the bedside, and Visitors must remain masked at all times.  

My loved one who is an inpatient is bored without visits, what can I do to help?

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 an admitted patient, does not have a personal cell phone or iPad.  How can I keep in touch when I am not able to visit?

There are many ways to stay connected to your loved ones while they are in the hospital. 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, click here.

Questions about Outpatient Visits

    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 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.

    Questions about Surgery and Procedures

    Surgeries have been delayed due to the pandemic. How does KHSC prioritize which surgeries get scheduled first?

    Guided by our commitment to patient- and family-centred care, we prioritize surgeries and procedures based on various criteria such as the condition of patients, risks associated with delaying treatment, and the availability of needed resources including PPE, medications, and postoperative care needs like primary care and home-and-community care. Cardiac, cancer and neurology patients continue to have time-sensitive needs. Minimally invasive procedures will also be considered because these can be performed with less impact on resources, such as PPE and hospital beds. We are working with our partners to ensure post-operative care, including rehab and home care, is available and coordinated in a timely manner, before surgeries are scheduled. We will continue to use our waitlist management tool to manage the ethical scheduling of priority cases.

    Are surgery patients tested for COVID-19 prior to their surgeries?

    KHSC has capacity to conduct pre-operative COVID-19 diagnostic testing.  Please follow your doctor's instructions for pre-surgical PCR testing.

    Where can I find more information?

    For updates and status of the COVID-19 virus, you can visit and of the following websites: