Visitor and Family Presence Restrictions



We welcome daily family presence (visits) for inpatients:

  • An inpatient may identify two (2) family visitors to be registered in our electronic system. Please note that only one (1) visitor is permitted at a time in the hospital to reduce crowding and congestion. 
  • 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. Patients may only have one registered family visitor at a time. Specialized (e.g. critical care, NICU) or very full units may also require family visitors to sign up for specific visit times for safety purposes and load-levelling.
  • In addition:
    • Pediatric inpatients may have 2 registered parents/adult caregivers at a time.
    • Babies in the NICU:  May have 2 registered parents/caregivers at a time (please consult with Charge Nurse).
    • Patients that are imminently dying may have 2 registered family members at a time to a maximum of 6.
    • Women in labour may identify a doula as their second registered visitor if they wish.
  • We ask patients to try to choose family visitors who can remain consistent visitors 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.  A hospital is different than other public settings such as restaurants or homes.  Over half a million people in our region rely on us for the most specialized health care available between Toronto and Ottawa.  We need your help to keep our hospital free from COVID-19.

  • We recommend that patients and families arrange for different times of day for visits (e.g. one family visitor in the morning; second in the evening) to reduce crowding in shared rooms.

  • Inpatients are strongly encouraged to choose as their registered family visitor(s) only persons who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 (i.e., 2 doses of approved vaccine + 14 days).
  • Registered family members must pass screening at the entrance, show photo ID at every visit, clean their hands and wear masks at all times - even at the bedside.  Visitors may not eat or drink in a patient’s room.
  • Patients and registered family visitors are encouraged to communicate updates with non-visiting family members to reduce calls to busy clinical units. Your help is appreciated. 
  • All patients and families may continue with telephone or virtual (e.g. FaceTime) visits.
  • Patients on quarantine may only have a registered family visitor after their period of quarantine is finished.


  • 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 are able to attend alone to do so with a charged cell phone to facilitate communication with family. 

    PLEASE NOTE: The following patients are identified as particularly vulnerable and so every effort will be made to support one care partner to enter and remain in UCC/ED with them:

    • patient at imminent risk of dying;
    • paediatric patients < 18 years NOTE:  may be accompanied by two (2) care partners
    • patient with significant developmental, physical or intellectual disability;
    • patient with cognitive impairment (Examples: severe dementia, brain injury, stroke, delirium/confusion);
    • patient with insurmountable language barrier where all means of remote communication have failed;
    • person presenting for acute mental illness/addiction care.

In other cases and when it is safe from an occupancy/physical distancing standpoint to do so, one family member/caregiver may attend with other patients beyond the list above.  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 accompanying family members.  Family members may be asked to limit their time within the UCC or ED or may be asked to leave and return at a later time if required to reduce immediate crowding concerns.

  • 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 Children's Outpatient Centre):  May be accompanied by 1 adult caregiver.
  • 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 and click on “COVID-19 Information” for the latest updates. Thank you for helping us to keep our patients, staff and community safe.


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 up to two 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 two 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 second registered family visitor may come to see you when you are back in your room, remembering that only one family visitor may be in the hospital at a time.

Are there other ways to be as safe as possible during visiting?
We strongly encourage patients to choose family visitors who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 (i.e. 2 doses of vaccine plus 14 days).  All registered visitors are required to wear a mask at all times over the nose and mouth – including when visiting at the bedside and even if vaccinated.  Family visitors are also asked to use only public washrooms (located in the main lobby or on each floor) and not patient washrooms.  Family visitors are not permitted to eat or drink in patients’ rooms because masks must be kept on at all times.  Registered visitors should limit their visit to a maximum of 3 hours and should not visit any other areas of the hospital when they are here to see a loved one.

My family members are all fully vaccinated with 2 doses.  Why can’t all of them visit yet?
We still need to keep physical distancing in place and avoid crowding.  We are working toward a careful and safe expansion of family presence/visiting and are continually evaluating this in the context of COVID rates inside and outside the hospital, volumes of patients, staffing levels, and our ability to control or avoid any COVID outbreaks.  We appreciate your understanding as we move to re-open carefully and slowly for the protection of our patients and staff.

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.