COVID-19: Appointments & Visiting
Before visiting our hospitals, there are a few important things you should know:
Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) needs to increase restrictions to visitor presence and will require proof of full COVID-19 vaccination. Accepted proof includes:
• Paper version of vaccination receipt/notice
• PDF copy on a mobile device with QR code
Government-issued ID with a photo is also required for identity verification. This applies to all visitors, caregivers and support persons; it also applies for caregivers/support persons accompanying patients scheduled for an ambulatory care clinic visit.
Visitors will be denied entry to the hospital if they are unable to show proof of being fully vaccinated (including valid ID). As per Ontario guidance, fully vaccinated includes:
• Full series of COVID-19 vaccine authorized by Health Canada, or any combination of such vaccines, or
• One or two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine not authorized by Health Canada, followed by one dose of COVID-19 mRNA vaccine authorized by Health Canada, and
• Received the final dose of COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days before providing proof of being fully vaccinated.
Note: Current authorized vaccines by Health Canada include Pfizer BioNtech, Moderna, AstraZeneca COVISHIELD, and Janssen/Johnson & Johnson
Visiting hours are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.
Inpatients are allowed up to two pre-identified visitors per day (within a 24-hour period). The visitors must be fully vaccinated. Only one visitor will be allowed at the patient’s bedside at any given time. (Changes to the list of permitted visitors is not possible at this time)
Ambulatory patients (outpatients) are not permitted to have a family member or caregiver accompany them at this time, however, there are some exceptions. Read more.
Visitors must pass COVID-19 screening to enter the hospital.
We will continue to provide medical masks to visitors at designated hospital entrances. However, visitors and patients who choose to wear their own clean, well-fitting mask (N95 or KN95), will be permitted to do so without having to wear a hospital-issued medical mask on top.
Exceptions should be discussed with the clinical manager and care team.
There are limited exemptions to these policies, including:
- Families of an end of life patient – as determined by the clinical team
- Essential caregiver if he/she is caring for a highly dependent family member who needs their frequent support
- Compassionate reasons (e.g., life or limb threatening situations)
- Partner of a patient giving birth; excludes visits to antenatal appointments
- Parents of pediatric patients and parents of infants in the NICU
- Visitors who have valid proof of medical exemption
The presence of family members, caregivers and support persons is important to the well-being of our patients. However, we must balance this with the need to keep everyone within our hospitals safe. We appreciate your support as we continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
For more information, please explore the content below.
In Our Hospitals
We will continue to provide medical masks to visitors at designated hospital entrances, however, visitors and patients who choose to wear their own clean, well-fitting mask (N95 or KN95) will be permitted to do so without having to wear a hospital-issued medical mask on top.
Respirators, or masks with valves, and cloth masks are not permitted.
Outpatients, family members, caregivers, and other visitors who refuse to properly wear a mask will not be permitted entry in to HHS sites.
If you have a medical condition that prevents you from wearing a mask, we will work with you to accommodate your needs and ensure your safety and that of those around you.
All essential family members/caregivers/ support persons MUST:
- Be fully vaccinated with a Health Canada approved vaccine at least 14 days before providing proof of being fully vaccinated.
- Be designated by the patient and recorded by the unit.
- Enter at visitor/patient entrances.
- Complete and pass screening (you will be given a mask).
- Wear the mask provided at screening.
- Follow strict hand hygiene guidelines and respiratory etiquette (covering sneezes and coughs).
- Stay in the patient’s room for the duration of the visit. Going for walks is not currently permitted, unless to use a public washroom.
- Ensure any food brought in for the patient is individually packaged and not shared. All leftovers must be discarded and cannot be kept in unit fridges.
- Not eat or drink while in the patient’s room.
- Practice physical distancing (2 metres/6 feet apart); separation barriers (e.g., privacy curtains) in patient rooms must be in place.
- Use public washroom(s) and not patient washrooms.
- Consult with clinical team to determine length of visit.
Our online screening tool will allow patients, essential caregivers, and support persons to screen upon entrance to the hospital or prior to arrival on their personal device – available any time the same day they are scheduled to arrive.
Screening in advance will help reduce waiting when they arrive and will help speed up the screening process. The screen will have a date, time and instructions on next steps.
The screening tool can be found at screening.hhsc.ca
Screening At All Entrances
Our staff will ask patients and visitors about symptoms, particularly respiratory symptoms, and contact with others. They will also ask visitors to see proof of full vaccination. If you meet the current case-definition (a combination of symptoms and contact) for COVID-19 staff will begin a special infection-control protocol.
These added measures, while important, may increase delays in our already busy hospitals. We appreciate your patience and encourage you to visit needadoc.ca to determine the most appropriate place to seek care for your medical needs.
Screening Process - Adults
Click the photos below for step-by-step instructions of our screening process
Screening Process - McMaster Children's Hospital
Click the photos below for step-by-step instructions of our screening process
Cafes & Cafeterias
Food service locations will be limited to take-out packaged options only. In accordance with COVID-19 requirements, café and cafeteria seating areas are for staff use only. Learn more about café and cafeteria locations and hours of operation at Hamilton Health Sciences.
Parking at Hamilton Health Sciences
Learn more about parking fees and directions to our sites. Parking fees help cover the cost of maintenance and lease payments for our parking lots, as well as vital medical equipment that is not funded by the government.
Adult In-patients will be allowed up to two identified caregivers/visitors one at a time at the patient’s bedside between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. Children under the age of 12 will not be permitted.
For patients who are imminently at the end of life, the clinical managers or delegate, in partnership with the patient and essential caregivers/support persons, will determine the best options for caregiver/support person presence.
More than two caregivers/support persons may be present at the bedside with proactive planning involving Infection Prevention & Control Practitioners and the clinical team.
As of December 30, 2021, all patients requiring admission to hospital, and patients undergoing surgery and minor procedures, will be tested for COVID-19 to reduce the risk of patient-to-patient transmission and outbreaks. This is due to the dramatic rise of COVID-19 infection in our community.
One caregiver/support person is allowed only for patients requiring cognitive, mobility, or emotional support.
Patients who are pregnant, in labour, or postpartum
In Labour & Delivery, patients who are pregnant, in labour or postpartum may have one caregiver/support person present 24/7.
Once transferred to the post-partum unit, they may have one caregiver/support person and one visitor, however only one person at the bedside at a time. The caregiver/support person can be unvaccinated and may have in- and out- privileges however, they must be re-screened each time that they re-enter the hospital.
Unvaccinated individuals, who are not COVID-positive, also have in-and-out privileges, but they must not visit other locations throughout the hospital. Should the caregiver/support person be COVID-positive, we will isolate them with their family member and they will not have in-and-out privileges.
Visitors must show proof of vaccination.
Antenatal clinics are located on 4B1, 2F, PND.
Pediatric patients on all inpatient units (including children and youth in the mental health program) may have one parent/caregiver present at a time at the bedside. Children under the age of 12 are not permitted to visit at this time.
Pediatric patients in the Emergency Department, Urgent Care Centre and Ambulatory Care Clinics may be accompanied by one parent/caregiver.
Pediatric patients scheduled for Diagnostic Imaging are permitted to be accompanied by one parent or caregiver.
Neonatal ICU Patients
Neonatal ICU infants may have up to two individuals present (i.e., one parent and one other person). Children under the age of 12 are not permitted to visit at this time.
Outdoor visiting continues with caregivers/visitors, who are screened when they arrive at HHS. The patient and caregiver/visitor may remove their masks when they reach their outdoor destination, and don masks again when they re-enter the building.
Exceptions to the visiting guidelines may apply, and must be approved by the clinical manager.
We will do our best to include caregivers/support persons throughout the varying waves of disease spread during the pandemic period. This includes but is not limited to:
- Support for physical care and mental well-being, including:
- Assistance with meals; mobility; personal care Communication assistance for persons with hearing, visual, speech, cognitive, intellectual or memory impairments
- Assistance for patients with disabilities
- Provision of emotional support and/or spiritual support
- Supported decision-making
- Support for care coordination and discharge planning, including Aboriginal Patient Navigators and LHIN Care Coordinators
- Patients attending surgery or other procedures.
- Other special needs as determined by the care team in partnership with the clinical manager.
Connecting with your loved ones
During times like these, we know the importance of keeping connected with your loved ones that are staying in hospital. At Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS), there are several ways to keep in touch, including sending a note through our “email-a-patient” service, or through virtual means of communication.
The “email-a-patient” service allows you the option of sending a special note to your loved one. If you wish to send a message to your loved one, please fill out the form found on the website and a staff member will hand deliver it.
In terms of keeping in touch through virtual means, we encourage you to connect with patients by telephone or by video conferencing, such as FaceTime or Skype. Free telephone and public Wifi access are available by accessing “HHS Free Wifi” in your device’s network settings.
Help keep our hospitals safe
It’s your responsibility when you are in the hospital to help keep our hospitals safe.
- All visitors must be fully vaccinated with a Health Canada approved vaccine at least 14 days before providing proof of being fully vaccinated.
- All visitors must be screened before entering the hospital.
- Visitors must use designated entrances (Go to hamiltonhealthsciences.ca/covid19 for entrance locations).
- Masks will be supplied at the entrances. They must be worn at all times in the hospital.
- Please practice good respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene when entering and leaving the hospital and entering and leaving the hospital unit.
- Please practice physical distancing in all public areas.
- You may visit only the designated patient and once you leave the unit and/or hospital, you cannot re-enter until the next designated visiting day.
External service providers, contractors and vendors
More information on our Vendor Information page.
We understand the important role family and loved ones have in supporting our patients. In these times, it is necessary to protect the well-being of all patients by limiting traffic in and out of the hospital and practicing social distancing.
To support your ability to keep in contact with your loved ones, we would like to provide you with updated information as to how to facilitate this during this difficult time.
Patients may want to receive personal items such as clothing, toiletries or other essential items for their care.
ONLY the APPROVED ITEMS listed below may be dropped off at the Visitor Screening Centres at each of the sites during its hours of operation (8am – 7:30pm Monday to Friday / 10am – 7:30pm Saturday and Sunday). Staff will ask you to transfer your items into a clear plastic bag that will be provided at the screening station; staff will write the patient’s name and room number on the bag. Staff will track the delivery and log any pertinent information.
• Clean clothes only
• NEW Toiletries only
• NEW Grooming items only – toothbrushes, combs, hair brushes, razors
• Personal items – books, magazines, puzzle books, family photos, etc.
• Electronics such as tablets and cell phones, if the patient is able to operate the item on their own; please note that these items must be wiped down with Oxivir before taken up to the unit
• Medications from home for a loved one who has just been admitted
• Food only permitted under below guidelines
• NO Vitamins or Health Food / over the counter remedies
• We will not accept expensive items like jewelry, etc.
• Flowers dropped off for patients are not approved at this time.
If you are requesting special approval for non-approved items, you will be instructed by a staff member at the entrances to contact the clinical manger on the unit where your loved one is for further instructions.
We will do our best to log any items dropped off for your loved ones; however, we will not be responsible for replacing any lost or stolen items.
Food Delivery & Consumption
To avoid removal of masks, eating and drinking by caregivers, support persons, and visitors is not allowed in patient rooms or on units. Food brought in by caregivers, support persons, and visitors for patients must be individually packaged and not shared. Leftovers must be discarded as they cannot be kept in unit fridges. Nor should food be left with HHS staff to be delivered to patients or visitors. Reusable containers, if used, must be cleaned and managed by the family member, parent, or caregiver.
Please practice good hand hygiene at all times, including when entering and leaving the hospital and before eating food.
Questions should be directed to the unit or site administrators.
Retail Pharmacies Are Open
Our outpatient pharmacies remain open at all of our HHS sites for patients that may require toiletries.
These changes to the visitor guidelines are difficult for everyone, but we are here to support in any way we can. Thank you for your understanding during this challenging time. Be assured that our patients are getting exceptional care from our outstanding physicians, nurses, and staff in a way that protects their safety and that of others. We thank you for your support in helping to reduce the number of people entering our facilities.
If you have any questions, please contact your care team or Patient Experience at patientexperience@HHSC.CA.
For further detailed information please ask your health care team. Thank you for your cooperation as we work together to keep patients, families and staff safe.