Read new visiting guidelines and other COVID-19 updates here.

Hamilton Health Sciences Home
Empty waiting room with chairs and a plant
March 20, 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 visitors 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 end of life care.

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

One accompanying family member/caregiver will be permitted to support the patient during their labour and birth. This includes support for the patient post-delivery as long as her baby remains with her at the bedside. The support person will leave the hospital when mother and baby are discharged. For babies who require a higher level of care, we will ask the support person to go home, however they may visit the baby within the visiting guidelines for NICU. All patients and family members/caregivers 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).

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/Caregiver/External Service Provider who has failed entrance screening questions are not permitted to visit.
  • 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.


External Service Providers, Contractors and Vendors

Only service providers that are essential to our operations are permitted, including emergency services, contractors completing time-sensitive infrastructure work, correction officers accompanying a patient, interpreters supporting patient decision-making, and external delivery services. All providers must exit the building immediately after completing their work.


Personal Items for Patients

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-8pm Monday-Friday / 10am-8pm Saturday and Sunday).

Screeners will provide the family member a clear plastic bag to place the personal items in – note, only one bag per visit. Screeners will put a hand-written sticker/note in the bag with the patient’s name and room number. If the personal item is a cell phone or a tablet, the screener will ask the family member to pass the item through the plexi-glass slot and the screener will wipe it down using Oxivir/gloves and then pass it back so it can be placed into a clear plastic bag.

Screeners will complete a log sheet of when items are dropped off, by whom, with a general description of the items and for which patient.

The screening desk will call the unit to pick the items up within 30 minutes. We do not store any items, as they will go to the unit immediately. The screeners will note the name of the staff member who retrieved the items on the log sheet.

Approved items:

• Clean clothes only – will be bagged and picked up by the inpatient units
• NEW Toiletries only
• NEW Grooming items only – toothbrushes, combs, hair brushes, razors
• Personal items such as books, magazines, puzzle books, family photos etc.
• Electronics such as tablets and cell phones, only if the patient can operate the item on their own. Unit staff, please make a notation in the patient’s health record regarding the receipt of the electronic.
• Medications from home for new admits – will be bagged and picked up by the inpatient units and be given to Pharmacy per current practice

Non-approved items:

• NO FOOD or DRINKS (including SHAKES) permitted
• NO Vitamins or Health Foods / over the counter remedies
• We will not accept expensive items like jewelry, etc.

Visitors requesting special approval for non-approved items will be instructed by screeners to contact their Clinical Managers for direction. Unit Clinical Managers will be responsible to review these requests with Infection Control and the Director.


Encouraging Connection Between Patients & Families

During times like these, we know the importance of sending wishes to patients. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, there have been changes to the Volunteer Association’s email-a-patient service at Hamilton Health Sciences.

Volunteer Association staff will now deliver envelopes containing e-mail messages received from patients’ family members to team/nursing stations. Patients’ families can email messages to [email coming soon].

Free public WiFi access is now available by accessing “HHS Free Wifi.” This network is an attempt to help keep patients connected to loved ones during our no visitor phase. However, bandwidth on the network is limited. We encourage patients and families to connect with their loved ones by telephone or by video conferencing, such as FaceTime.