Visitor/Family Presence and Masking policies

In response to a decrease in respiratory illness at KHSC and in the community, and movement from high to moderate risk on the indicators we routinely monitor, an easing of restrictions began on February 21, 2024.

Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) and Occupational Health Safety & Wellness (OHSW) will continue to assess these parameters prior to recommending any additional escalation/de-escalation strategies.

What will change?

  • Masking is no longer required in transient public spaces (e.g., main hallways, elevators, cafeteria, etc.).

  • Patients are no longer required to wear a mask in outpatient areas (e.g. clinics), if asymptomatic. However, masking is still strongly recommended and encouraged.

What has not changed?

Universal staff masking remains in place for:

  • All staff and visitors/caregivers on all inpatient units (including nursing stations and hallways);

  • All staff, patients, and visitors in the ED, UCC and COPC;

  • All staff in outpatient areas and clinic spaces including patient registration

Outpatients will still need to screen for infectious symptoms at point of entry and don a mask if symptomatic.

Masks will remain readily accessible throughout the organization and at all entrances.

Inpatients will continue to be encouraged to wear a mask when leaving their bedspace/patient room.

Caregivers or visitors with infectious symptoms must postpone their visit until their symptoms have improved.

Why the change?

COVID-19 indicators such as test positivity, outbreaks and wastewater detection have steadily declined over the last 6 weeks.

Test positivity is now at 6.0%, which is as low as it was when we started our de-escalation process last June.

Although infectious illnesses continue to be reported to OHSW, COVID-19 cases are low. Other circulating respiratory viruses (e.g., influenza) are responsible for most staff illnesses.

Family and Visitor Presence Policy:

  • Mandatory masking on all inpatient units for all visitors, caregivers and patients who leave their rooms.
  • Care Partners and Family/Visitors are welcome 24 hours a day according to patient preference.
  • The number of people welcomed at the bedside at any one time is limited to two (2) family/visitors.
    • However, when appropriate, exceptions to this limit will be explored and determined in collaboration with the patient, family/visitors and interprofessional care team at the unit level.  In situations where there are shared rooms, this discussion will include the other patient(s) and their family/visitors.
  • Eating shared food items at the patient’s bedside is discouraged.
    • Family/Visitors are permitted to bring in appropriate/safe external food for patients. However, for the comfort and safety of patients, family/visitors are asked to refrain from eating shared food items in patient rooms. Family/Visitors are encouraged to consume food items at designated eating areas within KHSC such as the Atrium or Café.
  • Children under the age of 14 years are welcome provided they are supervised by an adult who is not the patient.
  • Family/Visitors who are feeling unwell; have an infection; have symptoms of respiratory or flu-like illnesses should not come to the Hospital.
  • For the safety of our patients, family/visitors are required to perform hand hygiene with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub upon entering and leaving the patient’s room.
  • If an infectious outbreak is declared on a specific unit of care, family/visitor restrictions and/or Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) safety measures may be implemented.
  • There may be sudden temporary interruptions to family presence to protect the privacy rights of other patients or to maintain safety and security.