Visitor and Family Presence Restrictions

IMPORTANT NOTICE:  Please note the status of the following units at our Kingston General Hospital site and impact on family presence:

  • Kidd 3 (OUTBREAK): The unit is under quarantine and closed to admissions and visitors. 
  • Clinical service (OUTBREAK): On Nov. 19, 2021 we declared an OUTBREAK on one clinical service. All clinical services at KHSC continue to operate normally at this time, including the service impacted by this outbreak.
  • Connell 3:  This unit is temporarily closed to family visitors (with the exception of essential visitors, i.e., those with a loved one who is critically ill or nearing end of life) to reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19.  Please contact the unit by telephone if you need help reaching your loved one for a virtual or telephone visit. 

Patient care services continue as usual in all other areas of our hospital sites.

INPATIENTS

Proof of full COVID-19 vaccination is required for registered family visitors of inpatients.  In exceptional/emergency circumstances ONLY, unvaccinated registered visitors will have access to rapid antigen testing in order to enter the hospital.  

All registered family members must wear masks at all times - even at the bedside.  Visitors should not eat or drink in a patient’s room or visit anyone other than the one patient they’re registered to visit. Family visitors who remove their mask or fail to abide by the Guidelines for Visiting a Loved One at KGH* may be asked to leave and prohibited from re-entering.

  • An inpatient may register ONE (1) fully vaccinated family visitor with the care team. Family is defined by the patient (does not need to be a blood relative or spouse). Only one (1) visitor is permitted at a time in the hospital to reduce crowding and congestion. 
  • Registered family visitors for inpatients must provide valid proof of COVID-19 vaccination plus photo ID at screening and be prepared to show this on the unit upon request. Full vaccination against COVID-19 is defined as 2 doses + 14 days.
  • Exemptions to this policy will be rare but may be made in situations such as life-threatening emergencies where family presence without delay is absolutely vital for the patient, family partner and care team. Requests for exemption will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. 
  • Exceptions also include:
    • People in Labour & Delivery: May have two fully vaccinated birthing support partners concurrently (exceptions may be made on a case-by-case basis).  
    • Babies in the NICU:  May have 2 registered adult caregivers at a time (please consult with Charge Nurse) 
    • Pediatric inpatients: May have 2 registered adult caregivers at a time
    • Patients that are imminently dying: May have 2 registered family members at a time to a maximum of 6
    • Patients on quarantine (including COVID-19 patients): May NOT have in-person visits until their quarantine period is cleared.  Virtual and telephone visits are encouraged at any time. 
  • We ask each family visitor to limit their visit to no more than 3 hours per visitor per visit to reduce crowding on inpatient units. Specialized (e.g. critical care, NICU) or very full units may also require registered family visitors to sign up for specific visit times for safety purposes.We ask each family visitor to limit their visit to no more than 3 hours per visitor per visit to reduce crowding on inpatient units. Specialized (e.g. critical care, NICU) or very full units may also require registered family visitors to sign up for specific visit times for safety purposes.

  • We ask patients to try to choose family visitors who can remain consistent for the duration of the hospital stay as this reduces risk in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak locally (i.e. no switching of registered family visitors).  The hospital must always take special precautions to make sure that we can provide safe care and can manage any required contact tracing in the event of an outbreak.  

  • We recommend that patients and families arrange for different times of day for visits to reduce crowding in shared rooms.

  • Registered family members must pass screening at the entrance, show proof of full COVID-19 vaccination plus photo ID at every visit.
  • Patients and registered family visitors are encouraged to communicate updates with non-visiting family members to reduce calls to busy clinical units. 
  • All patients and families may continue with telephone or virtual (e.g. FaceTime) visits.

OUTPATIENTS

Proof of COVID-19 vaccination for a registered caregiver is not required at this time in cases where an exception has been granted for the outpatient to be accompanied by a caregiver. Outpatients are still encouraged to attend their hospital visit alone.

  • Emergency Department or Urgent Care Centre patients:  

    The Emergency Department and Urgent Care Centre remain extremely busy with high volumes, which can quickly result in physical crowding. As a result, we continue to encourage patients who can attend alone to do so with a charged cell phone to facilitate communication with family. 

    PLEASE NOTE: Every effort will be made to allow one care partner to accompany the particularly vulnerable patients listed below. These care partners may be asked to limit their time within the UCC or ED or may be asked to leave and return later if required to reduce immediate crowding concerns. The clinical team must continually evaluate overall safety in the unit, as well as safety of individual patients, and adjust as required, irrespective at this time of vaccination status of family members accompanying the following patients: 

    • patient at imminent risk of dying;
    • paediatric patient younger than 18 years;
    • patient with significant developmental, physical or intellectual disability;
    • patient with cognitive impairment (Examples: severe dementia, brain injury, stroke, delirium/confusion);
    • patient with an insurmountable language barrier where all means of remote communication have failed;
    • person presenting for acute mental illness/addiction care.
  • Adult outpatients (including diagnostics):  No family member/caregiver allowed at this time
  • Vulnerable adult outpatients:  If vulnerable (as defined above and as reviewed/approved by care team):  May be accompanied by 1 adult caregiver.
  • Pediatric outpatients (including scheduled visits in Children's Outpatient Centre and walk-in visits for Pediatric Urgent Care Centre):  may be accompanied by 1 adult caregiver (note: exceptions may be made by care team on a case-by-case basis)
  • Day surgery (invasive or interventional procedures/surgery) patients:  May have 1 adult caregiver. 
    NOTE: Due to space limitations in the Mohs Clinic (Hotel Dieu Hospital site), we ask that one adult caregiver accompany a patient ONLY if the patient has cognitive or mobility issues that would create issues if the person is left unattended for several hours at a time (i.e., if the person would need assistance in using the washroom or visiting the cafeteria).

What should you do?

  • If you have questions, please talk with your nurse or doctor.
  • If you have a cell phone or other device, we encourage you to stay in touch with others and between visits through phone calls and virtual visits.  If you need help with this, we have a free Staying Connected program where a trained staff member or volunteer will bring a cleaned, charged device to a patient and help facilitate a virtual visit.
  • We ask patients to keep family members and friends (i.e. those who are not visiting) updated on your health condition (or you may ask your registered family member to help you do this) in order to avoid having multiple family members call the busy nursing station for updates.  This will help us to make sure staff are available to support care needs on the unit.

Please visit www.kingstonhsc.ca and click on “COVID-19 Information” for the latest updates. Thank you for helping us to keep our patients, staff and community safe.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

I don’t have my own telephone.  How can I call my family?
Most patient rooms are equipped with a telephone.  If you need help reaching the phone to call loved ones or if you need access to a phone on your unit, please speak with a staff member

Are these changes permanent?
We continue to update and make changes when we can do so safely.  Patient advisors provide advice and input into all family presence (visitor) policies.

I am scheduled for a short stay in hospital.  May I have a visitor?
You will be asked to identify one fully vaccinated registered visitor for the duration of your stay. You may have one registered visitor visit you any days of the week between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. for up to 3 hours at a time.

I am scheduled for surgery.  May I have my one family members with me in the day surgery area?
Due to the small space, only one family member may escort a patient to surgery. If you are an inpatient, your one registered family visitor may come to see you when you are back in your room.

Why do my family visitors have to wear a mask if they’re vaccinated?
All registered family visitors are required to wear a mask at all times over the nose and mouth, including when visiting at the bedside and even when fully vaccinated because our patients are vulnerable to all infectious illnesses – not just COVID. Family visitors should only use public washrooms (located in the main lobby or on each floor), not patient washrooms. Family visitors are not permitted to eat or drink in patients’ rooms because masks must be kept on at all times. Family visitors who fail to adhere to these safety protocols may be removed from the “registered visitor” list. Registered visitors should not visit any other areas of the hospital when they are here to see a loved one.

Essential Care Partners: Important safety information 
Keeping our patients and staff as safe as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic is a top priority and we need your help. Please partner with us to keep all of our patients and staff safe by reviewing this important information before you come to KHSC as an essential care partner/caregiver for or with one of our patients.  Review this information, here.

Additional guidelines for families/loved ones visiting our sites
If you are accompanying someone to the hospital or you are a registered inpatient visitor, please read the following:

Frequently Asked Questions
For more information plus  Frequently Asked Questions about our temporary family presence (visitor) policy, click here.