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Patients, visitors, staff and healthcare providers can find the latest COVID-19 updates here.

Hamilton Health Sciences Home
Empty waiting room with chairs and a plant
April 11, 2020

NO VISITORS: Changes to visiting guidelines due to COVID-19

Due to the changing situation with the coronavirus (COVID-19), Hamilton Health Sciences is taking special precautions to keep our patients, caregivers and staff safe.

Changes now in effect – No Visitors

Effective Friday, March 20 at noon, visitors will not be permitted at our hospitals. We are doing this to maintain a safe environment for our patients and colleagues.


Extremely limited visitation will only be permitted by exception only, as listed below.

Inpatients

Visiting is by exception only and determined and authorized by the clinical manager or delegate. Exceptions will be considered for patients with life-threatening situations or serious emergency surgeries, and adults requiring an essential caregiver (e.g., patients with cognitive differences/developmental delay, etc.).

Emergency Department

One family member/caregiver is permitted only if they are essential to support a patient in the emergency department. The team will determine length of stay of the visitor.

Patients Attending for Surgery or Other Procedures

One accompanying family/member/caregiver is permitted only if they are essential to support the patient to the preparation area, and then for pick up, if necessary, beyond the hospital entrance.

Ambulatory Clinics and Areas

One family member/caregiver is permitted only if they are essential to support a patient to an appointment.

Patients who are pregnant or in labour

In recognition that birth can be an anxiety-provoking experience, we want you to be able to have a support person with you in labour and delivery and on ward 4C (mother-baby unit) regardless of your COVID status.  For the safety of your support person and everyone at the hospital, your support person:

• Must not have COVID-19 symptoms.
• Will be screened for symptoms prior to entry to the hospital.
• Will be provided with appropriate personal protective equipment (such as a mask) for the duration of their stay.
• Will be asked to follow proper physical distancing and infection control guidelines.
• Will not have in-and-out privileges, and should limit their movement through the hospital.

At this time we will need to limit you to only one support person only during your stay in labour and delivery and on ward 4C. Unfortunately, if your baby requires admission to the Neonatial Intensive Care Unit (NICU) your support person will not be able to stay in hospital with you. However, they may visit your baby within the visiting guidelines for our NICU.

All patients and support persons should come to the hospital prepared with items they will need for their stay. This should include clothing, electronics, non-perishable snacks and toiletries that will last the duration of the stay (typically 1-3 days).

If you have any questions about bringing a support person with you to hospital, or about your hospital visit in general, please contact your obstetrician or midwife.

Palliative Patients

In the event of imminent or anticipated passing of a patient (approximately 24 – 48 hours), the health care team will advise the family. If allowed, only one family member/caregiver/parent may visit per day. As each situation is unique, your health care team will determine any further exceptions.

Pediatric patient being tested for COVID-19 or is a confirmed case

One parent/caregiver can be present. They must remain in the same room with the child, and wear appropriate personal protective equipment. This must be the same person for the duration of the patient’s stay. Hospital meals will be provided to the parent, to support the need for them to remain in the room.

  • All visitors must be over the age of 18.
  • Any family member/parent/caregiver who fails entrance screening questions and are absolutely necessary to stay with the child will be subject to testing on-site and given further instructions. No exceptions will be made for other visitors and circumstances.
  • If a family member/caregiver is not in the patient room with the patient, they will need to leave the hospital.

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.


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.


External Service Providers, Contractors and Vendors

More information on our Vendor Information page.


Personal Items

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.

Approved Items:

• 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

Non-Approved Items:

• 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 visitors 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

The following guidelines are for the delivery and consumption of food at all sites during the COVID-19 pandemic. Questions about the guidelines or underlying processes should be directed to site administrators.

If the patient is COVID positive or has an essential visitor who cannot leave the room (e.g., parent of a child unable to leave the patient’s room), HHS will provide in-room meals for the family member/parent/caregiver. HHS unit staff will assist with accessing meals.

For family member/parent/caregiver of all other patients:

To avoid the need to exit/re-enter the hospital, food may be brought from home or purchased at HHS sites as follows:
• Hamilton General Hospital – Barton Bean & vending machines
• Juravinski Hospital / Cancer Centre – Atrium Café & vending machines
• McMaster Children’s Hospital – Corner Café & vending machines
• St. Peter’s – Vending machines
• West Lincoln Memorial Hospital – ED vending machines

Food deliveries (by family member or food delivery service) must be received by the family member/parent/caregiver at the hospital door. Please perform hand hygiene upon entry to hospital after any food deliveries.

No food may be left with HHS staff to be delivered to patients/visitors. Reusable containers, if used, must be cleaned/managed by the family member/parent/caregiver.

All food must be eaten in patient rooms (no cafeteria seating). Common seating areas are for HHS staff only, as directed by Hamilton Public Health Department.

Please practice good hand hygiene at all times, including when entering/leaving the hospital and before eating food.


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.