Visitor/Family Presence and Masking policies

In response to rising COVID-19 prevalence in southeastern Ontario, Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) has re-introduced mandatory masking for patients, staff and visitors across all areas of Kingston General Hospital site and Hotel Dieu Hospital site, effective September 28, 2023.

Throughout the pandemic, KHSC’s Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) team has monitored local COVID-19 community prevalence markers including COVID-19 test positivity, outbreaks in congregate living settings, and wastewater detection. Current regional data indicates that test positivity has risen to from 10.1% to 21.5% in the past ten days, however, other evidence suggests that this could be a short-lived rise in COVID-19 cases.

At this time there is no change to the family and visitor presence policy, which currently allows for two visitors to a patient’s bedside at any time. Further control measures will be re-introduced should local COVID-19 markers continue to rise in Kingston. Monitoring and escalating control measures continues to be part of KHSC’s respiratory response plan.

To help reduce the risk of acquiring or transmitting COVID-19, KHSC encourages everyone who is eligible to get a shot of the updated COVID-19 vaccine, get an annual flu shot, practice regular handwashing, wear a mask when appropriate and stay home when sick.

What will not change

  • Masks continue to be required in all inpatient areas, Emergency Department, Children’s Outpatient Clinic and Urgent Care Centre.
  • Everyone will continue to have access to masks upon entry, as well as in all clinical areas.
  • Staff will be expected to don a mask when caring for patients who are wearing a mask.
  • Healthcare workers may ask a patient to mask as part of their point of care risk assessment.
  • Masks remain required for patients entering our hospital sites with respiratory symptoms.
  • Caregivers or visitors with infectious symptoms must postpone their visit until their symptoms have improved. If it is necessary for the caregiver to be present, then the caregiver is required to mask during their time inside the hospital.
  • Staff, caregivers and visitors will continue to have access to all personal protective equipment where required.

Please note that KHSC’s infectious disease experts will continue to monitor key COVID-19 indicators in our region .

The following changes have been made to our 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.