Essential Care Partner and Visitor Presence Policy

Updated: March 1, 2022


Note: Please do not come to the hospital to visit patients if you have any symptoms, are feeling unwell or if you are required to isolate as per government requirements.

We understand the importance and integral role families, loved ones and caregivers have in providing physical, social and emotional support to patients.

North York General has updated its visitor policy for the General and community sites to allow for more visits by Essential Care Partners (support people) and visitors. Note: the Seniors’ Health Centre is governed by a separate policy that follows provincial guidance and directives for Long-Term Care Homes.

Key changes include:

  • Two Essential Care Partners or visitors for patients 18 years of age or older are now allowed. Visits must continue to be pre-booked and be within the visiting hours of 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Visitors do not have to be the same person every day.
  • Unlimited Essential Care Partners or visitors per day for patients facing imminent end of life (including those on Medical Assistance in Dying) and who are COVID-negative. Two individuals may visit at a time over the course of a day. Visitors can be children under 12 years of age.
  • One Essential Care Partner or visitor is now allowed for patients with outpatient procedures such as scheduled appointments or day surgeries, as space permits. Priority will be given to individuals who require essential support including those with mobility or cognitive disabilities or youth under 18.
  • One Essential Care Partner or visitor can also now remain with a patient overnight following consultation with the patient’s care team.

To continue ensuring the safest possible environment for all our patients, vulnerable populations, community and team members, current mandatory vaccination and masking policies for Essential Care Partners and visitors will remain in place for the time being.

Virtual visits continue to be offered to as another option to stay in contact with loved ones. See below for details.

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Essential Care Partner and Visitor Presence Policy 

Mandatory Vaccination

To ensure the safest possible environment for all our patients, vulnerable populations, community and team members, Essential Care Partners (ECPs) and/or Visitors aged 12 and older, are required to provide proof of full COVID-19 vaccination (must be 14 days from the date of 2nd dose) and Government Issued Photo when visiting or accompanying a patient at NYGH and its community sites. NYGH will not accept proof of a negative PCR or rapid antigen COVID-19 test in place of proof of full COVID-19 vaccination.

Note: this policy only applies to visitors and support people. NYGH will always provide care to anyone in need regardless of their vaccination status.  

Limited Exceptions to Mandatory Vaccination Policy

We recognize that limiting visitor access for some patients may have a greater impact to their safety and well-being than others. ECPs or Visitors who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will be permitted to visit the following patients after consultation and collaboration with the care team:

  • End of Life < two weeks
  • Paediatric < 18 years old
  • Patient experiencing new critical illness, new mental health crisis, receiving a life altering diagnosis
  • Laboring Patients
  • Patients with intellectual or developmental disabilities
  • Patients who require support to outpatient appointments that the team cannot provide

A very small number of essential care partners, designated caregivers and visitors may also have a medical exemption from COVID-19 vaccination. Individuals who may have a medical exemption must contact the NYGH Patient Experience Office at 416-756-6125 or to complete an application to have the exemption approved.

Visitor Guidelines

  • Visiting hours remain 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. for most patients admitted to the hospital.
  • Most patients admitted to the hospital will be allowed a visit by two family/support person each day (this person can vary each day).  All visits need to be pre-booked with the care team. Please contact the care team for more information. 

ECPs or visitors may not visit if they are:

  • COVID-19 positive
  • Are awaiting the results of a COVID test
  • A household member of a COVID-19 positive patient
  • Under restriction from the Health Protection and Promotion Act
  • Under restriction by Quarantine Act (International Travel)

­­­­­No visitors for patients on outbreak units or units under investigation for potential outbreak with the exception of a patient at imminent end-of-life.

*If you are not currently permitted to visit a patient at NYGH, please consider a virtual family visit to connect with a patient using Microsoft Teams and FaceTime. To book a visit, please connect directly with the patient's nursing station.

Information for Specific Departments:

Emergency Department – One support person/Essential Care Partner may accompany a patient for the duration of the ED stay with in and out privileges. If required, the support person may change while the patient remains in the ED. For Paediatric patients in the ED, two support persons/Essential Care Partners may accompany the patient. If admitted, the support person(s) may also accompany the admitted patient to ward. If outside of visiting hours, the visit is limited to 1 hour.

Labour and Delivery – Two support persons/ECPs are permitted during childbirth, with 24-hour access and in and out privileges. In and out privileges are limited to one time if the patient being seen is under isolation precautions. One support person/ECP is allowed at the Labour and Delivery triage.

Maternal and Newborn – Two support persons/ECPs may accompany a patient on post-partum, with 24-hour access and in and out privileges. However due to space restrictions, one support person/ECP may be at the bedside at one time. There are no in and out privileges if the patient being seen is under isolation precautions. Two designated support people/ECP may accompany newborns readmitted for care, with 24-hour access and in and out privileges.

Paediatrics and Mental Health – For patients 18 and younger not under isolation precautions, two support persons/ECPs are allowed to visit at the same time with in and out privileges. For patients 18 and on isolation precautions, one support person/ECP is allowed to visit with no in and out privileges. 

Requirements During Visits

While not mandatory, NYGH strongly encourages all ECPs and Visitors to take a rapid antigen test prior to their scheduled visit. All ECPs and Visitors will be screened for symptoms, travel status (as applicable) and vaccine status upon entry to the hospital. A hospital grade mask will be provided to all patients, ECPs and Visitors entering the hospital. The mask must cover the individual’s mouth, nose and chin and be always worn.

ECPs and Visitors must comply with all infection control precautions as directed by hospital staff and may not eat or drink when visiting or use the unit pantry. ECPs and Visitors visiting COVID positive or PUI patients must be provided appropriate PPE and provided education by the care team to support the visit safely. If a safe visit cannot be facilitated (i.e., due to staffing support) the visit must be rescheduled.

NYGH has instituted visiting days where ECPs and Visitors must pre-arrange the day of their individual visit by contacting the patient care unit to book. There are limited exceptions to this rule that will be accommodated in collaboration with the care team.

ECPS and Visitors are required to report to staff when arriving to the unit, sign in on the unit’s ECP Log Sheet, remain in the patient’s room (unless taking patient outdoors with unit staff’s permission), and limit movement within the hospital. When the visit is complete, the ECP or Visitor is required to sign out on the unit’s Log Sheet and then leave the hospital promptly from the 1st floor West Exit.

Virtual Visits

Virtual Visits continue to be offered to ECPs or Visitors as another option to stay in contact with their loved ones. Each unit has an iPad that is enabled for virtual visits. These can be used by staff at any time to connect patients with ECPs or Visitors. ECPs or Visitors can book virtual visits in advance by asking the unit the patient is on to provide one at a time convenient to the patient and care team.

Preparing for Your Visit

Please view the instructional videos prior to your visit:

  1. What to expect the day of your visit
  2. How to put on and take off your mask properly
  3. How to put on and take off personal protective equipment if needed

What do I need to know about the day of the visit?

Please do not visit the hospital if you are feeling unwell, even if it is only the mildest symptoms.

Entering the hospital:

  • Enter only through the South lobby entrance. The only exception is for those going to see patients in the Emergency Department (ED) – you must enter through the ED.
  • When entering the organization, everyone is screened for COVID-19 symptoms. For faster and easier screening, patients can pre-screen up to 12 hours before their appointments. After completing the tool, patients can take a picture or print their form and show to our screeners at the entrance. Click here to access the pre-screening tool.
  • Please arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled time slot to allow for screening.
  • Upon arrival, you will be screened for COVID-19 related symptoms. People displaying any symptoms will not be able to visit and will need to reschedule.
  • Screening staff will provide a surgical mask to all patients, support persons and visitors when they enter the hospital or our other facilities. Personal cloth masks/face coverings will no longer be permitted on site.  

During your visit:

  • When you arrive on the unit, please sign in and follow staff instructions.
  • Strict infection prevention measures must be followed throughout your visit including frequent hand washing, wearing personal protective equipment if necessary, as directed by staff and maintaining physical distancing.
  • You must remain in the patient’s room for the entire scheduled visit. To reduce the risk of spreading the virus, going for walks is currently not permitted.
  • Food may be brought if individually packaged and may not be shared. All leftovers must be discarded and cannot be kept in unit fridges. All containers must be cleaned at home and unit pantry’s may not be used.

When your visit is over:

  • When your visit ends, please sign out on the unit.
  • Exit the hospital immediately by the West exit on the 1st floor.

Frequently Asked Questions: