An outbreak of COVID-19 in our hospital is a very real worry, so it is crucial that we keep our patients, staff and hospital environment safe. Kingston Health Sciences Centre provides the most highly specialized care for the entire Southeastern Ontario region. We care for over 450 inpatients every night and provide outpatient, surgical and emergency services to several thousand people every day. In some cases, we are the only hospital in the entire region that provides specific types of care. We must keep our site safe from COVID-19.
We are temporarily limiting all visitors - including family members of patients - to our hospital sites. This includes people accompanying patients to appointments. While these temporary restrictions may feel difficult, the safety of our patients and staff who provide care is paramount. A closure of a unit or worse, of an entire hospital site because of a COVID-19 outbreak, must be avoided. We are here to care for you and your loved one. Your support of these restrictions will help us to continue to be here for you when you need us most.
At present, family presence is limited to the following:
- Inpatients at the KGH site: A patient will be asked on admission to identify one essential family member as their designated partner in care. Any patient or family member who isn’t sure whether this vital step has occurred should ask the unit clerk, nurse or charge nurse to verify that the step is complete. This designated family member must be registered by the patient’s clinical unit. Registered family members must present photo identification that clearly shows face and complete first and last name.
- Odd or Even Day Visits Based on Floor Number. In order to limit the number of people in the hospital on a daily basis, family members of patients on even-numbered floors will be allowed to visit on even-numbered days and vice versa for odd-numbered floors and days. For example, a patient on Connell 9 would be able to have their essential family member visit on June 1, 3, 5, etc.
- Please note: Due to confined space in the Kidd 2 ICU, that unit only will use a system whereby patients in odd numbered rooms may have family presence on odd numbered days and those in even numbered rooms will have family presence on even numbered days.
- Patients who are actively dying: An inpatient who is actively dying, as defined by the most responsible physician, may have 2 registered family members. Exceptions may be made within reason in exceptional circumstances only (e.g. spouse + 2 children = 3). Where an exceptional circumstance is made, only 2 family members are permitted in the hospital at any one time. This includes patients receiving Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD).
- Patients with COVID-19: If the patient has tested positive for COVID-19 but is not dying, then the patient is in isolation and cannot receive visitors until a negative COVID test occurs.
Patient who is actively dying and has COVID-19: If the patient who is dying has COVID-19, they may have one family member with them. This may have to be someone who is not a member of the same household as the patient in order to be able to pass the screening, which currently restricts access to persons in close contact with known or suspected persons with COVID-19. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) will be provided by the clinical unit for this family member to keep them safe while they are with their loved one. Note: this direction may change at any time based on COVID-19 prevalence within the community or hospital.
Patients for whom we cannot provide safe care without a family member present (inpatient or outpatient): A small number of patients (e.g. very frail/elderly, patient with dementia, person who is non-verbal or severely disabled) require a family member to be present because we cannot provide safe care otherwise. In this case and at the direction of the clinical provider/team, a family member may be required to accompany a patient.
- Emergency Department or Urgent Care Centre: A patient who is at imminent risk of dying may have a loved one present with them during their Emergency Department (ED) or Urgent Care Centre (UCC) stay. Patients with cognitive or mobility difficulties may be accompanied by one person during their UCC or ED stay. Pediatric patients in the Emergency Department, Urgent Care Centre, and Children’s Outpatient Centre (COPC) are permitted to be accompanied by one adult family member.
Day Surgery: Patients scheduled for surgery on an outpatient basis (i.e., day surgery) and those undergoing minimally invasive procedures may have up to one adult caregiver attend with them. Due to space limitations related to physical distancing requirements, pediatric day surgery patients may also have one adult caregiver attend with them. NOTE: This does not include Mohs or endoscopy patients at the HDH site.
Inpatients having surgery: Inpatients (admitted patients) having surgery at our KHSC sites may have their one registered family member present with them the day of their surgery, regardless of whether or not it is their floor’s day for usual visits according to the odd floor/odd days, even floor/even days protocol. Due to space limitations related to physical distancing requirements, pediatric day surgery patients may also have one adult caregiver attend with them.
- Pediatric Patients, including Child/Youth Mental Health Inpatient Unit and NICU: Paediatric patients on all inpatient units, including children/youth in the mental health program, are permitted to have up to two adult caregivers present. Due to space limitations related to physical distancing requirements, pediatric day surgery patients may have one adult caregiver attend with them. NOTE: NICU may have tighter restrictions in place if the number of babies in the unit makes physical distancing difficult. Please speak directly with the care team in the NICU for the latest information. Pediatric patients in the Emergency Department, Urgent Care Centre and Children's Outpatient Centre are permitted to be accompanied by one adult caregiver.
Women in Labour/Post-Partum: Women in active labour may be accompanied by one adult family member. This includes the duration of their post-partum stay.
Outpatient Areas (both sites): Because of significant challenges maintaining safe physical distancing as we screen high volumes of patients at our entries, outpatients are not permitted to have a family member accompany them at this time except in circumstances listed below. Patients are encouraged to speak with their care provider about inviting their loved one to join the appointment by telephone where possible;
Cancer and Renal outpatients (Burr Wing): Cancer and renal patients coming to Burr 0, many of whom are frail or very ill and have physical or cognitive limitations that require assistance so that safe care can be provided (see below). These patients may be accompanied by one adult family member
HDH Site Mental Health Programs: Adult Mental Health patients may have one substitute decision maker (SDM) or adult family member present for urgent in-person appointments to facilitate safe care. Child and Youth Mental Health patients are allowed up to two family members if required.
Patients for whom we cannot provide safe care without a family member present: A small number of patients (e.g. very frail/elderly, patient with dementia, person who is non-verbal or severely disabled) require a family member to be present because we cannot provide safe care otherwise. In this case and at the direction of the clinical provider/team, a family member may be required to accompany a patient. In those instances, the family member or escort may be registered into our system to help streamline the screening process when the patient arrives for a scheduled visit or procedure.
Designated entrances and screening
Everyone coming to the Hotel Dieu Hospital site or the Kingston General Hospital site must go through a designated entrance. All designated family members and visitors must pass screening in order to enter our hospital sites. These restrictions are subject to change at any time.
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:
- Guidelines for Families/Loved Ones Visiting the HDH site (December 21, 2020)
- Guidelines for Families/Loved Ones Visiting the KGH site (December 21, 2020)
Giving to KHSC safely over the holidays
Many generous community members have asked about how they can support KHSC patients and staff this holiday season. We need to take precautions to be as safe as possible. Please click here to read through our guidelines for safe giving to KHSC over the holidays.
Frequently Asked Questions
For more information and to read some frequently asked questions about our temporary family presence (visitor) policy, click here.
Below, you can listen to Elizabeth Bardon, Vice President of Mission, Strategy Integration and Support Services, share information about our Family (Visitor) Presence Policy during the COVID-19 pandemic.