Some Ontario Hospitals Are Cracking Down On Visitor Rules & You’ll Need To Be Vaccinated

You'll probably need to schedule your visit, too.

Toronto Staff Writer
Some Ontario Hospitals Are Cracking Down On Visitor Rules & You’ll Need To Be Vaccinated

Some hospitals in Ontario are starting to enforce stricter visitor rules due to the Omicron variant and rising COVID-19 cases.

So if you're unvaccinated and trying to visit someone in the hospital, you may not be able to unless it falls under an exceptional circumstance.

The hospitals under the umbrella of University Health Network, Sunnybrook Hospital and Unity Health announced that as of December 21, all visitors will be required to be fully vaccinated in order to visit patients, unless they qualify for an exception, and most will require visits to be scheduled or pre-approved.

Common exceptions to the fully vaccinated visitor requirement include exceptions for patients who are under 18, a patient who is giving birth, or if a patient is close to death, however, each hospital has varying rules.

University Health Network

All visitors (also called essential care partners) coming to UHN, which covers Toronto General Hospital, Toronto Western Hospital, and Princess Margaret, must be pre-approved, and only one essential care partner (ECP) will be allowed to visit per day unless the patient qualifies for two ECPs due to age or "intellectual disability."

Patients who are staying under seven days will not be permitted visitors.

Unity Health

Unity Health which covers hospitals such as St. Micheal's Hospital, Providence Healthcare and St. Joseph's Health Centre Toronto, will only be accepting scheduled visits for patients staying longer than seven days.

In this case, the patient can have two essential care partners "where one ECP may visit within a 24-hour period." The hospital network notes that inpatient visits are a maximum of three hours.

Alongside tighter visitor rules, Unity Health announced in a press release on December 20 that it will be pausing all "all non-essential ambulatory care and surgical procedures," and that non-essential ambulatory visits will be moved to virtual appointments when possible.

Sunnybrook Hospital

Sunnybrook Hospital announced that admitted patients will be allowed "one fully vaccinated designated essential care partner visit each day during regular visiting hours."

Only outpatients (those coming for treatment that does not require a hospital stay) with a "significant need" will be allowed a pre-approved visitor, it said.

The Ottawa Hospital

The Ottawa Hospital is also tightening restrictions for visitors "as part of the hospital's ongoing response to COVID-19 and the Omicron variant."

Currently, all visits must be scheduled, and a patient may only have two fully vaccinated visitors listed, but only one of them can visit in a day. If one of the visitors identifies as an essential care partner, they will be able to visit the patient even if another visitor is present.

For outpatients, only "a fully-immunized Essential Care Partner," may accompany a patient, but the hospital notes that space limitations may not allow for them to wait with the patient in waiting rooms.

Health Canada has a robust website with all the latest information on COVID-19 vaccines and can answer any questions you may have.

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