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ALERT CONTENT PLACEHOLDER

UHN's No Visitor Policy is still in effect, with exceptions only for pre-approved essential visitors ("Essential Care Partners"). There is no access for the public, or for visitors/caregivers who have not been pre-approved. We are working hard to find a balance between family presence while protecting our patients and staff by reducing the number of people inside our hospitals.

What is an Essential Care Partner?

UHN is using the term Essential Care Partner to describe essential visitors. You may see either term used at Toronto-area hospitals.

An Essential Care Partner is a support person whose presence is considered essential to the safety and well-being of a patient while they are inside the hospital. They might be a family member, friend, neighbour, paid private caregiver, or someone else. It is up to the patient to choose their Essential Care Partner.

If you would like an Essential Care Partner, please discuss it with the inpatient unit or clinic manager. Often, hospital staff and the health care team are able to provide appropriate support in these situations.

 Essential Care Partners are urged to limit close contact before visits and to report any COVID-positive results within 14 days of a hospital visit. If you've been exposed to someone with COVID-19, you cannot enter the hospital.
Who can enter UHN hospitals

Only patients with appointments and approved Essential Care Partners can enter the hospital. All Essential Care Partners must pass our entrance screening at each visit. There is no access for members of the public or other visitors. Children under 12 are not permitted in the hospital except under special circumstances.

Call the clinic or inpatient unit as early as possible before your appointment. Speak with the unit manager or another member of your health care team about your situation. If the manager is not available, the administrator-in-charge can also discuss approval.

Inpatient Units

  • Patients staying in the hospital can only have 1 Essential Care Partner visit during your hospital stay. You can also choose a second Essential Care Partner, in case your main support person is not available. Please provide these names to your health care team.
  • Short-stay, low acuity patients (those with expected stays under 2 weeks) are no longer eligible for Essential Care Partner visits, except under special circumstances.
  • Call the unit before your stay. Speak with the unit manager or another member of your health care team about your situation, needs and options. If the manager is not available, talk to the administrator-in-charge.
  • In special situations, patients may be able to have longer visits. These situations might include patients who:
    • are receiving end-of-life care
    • are under 18 years old
    • have an intellectual or developmental disability
    • have had major surgery
    • have cognitive impairment, or difficulty communicating due to an injury or illness (such as aphasia)
  • Essential Care Partners may visit the hospital between 8:00 am – 9:00 pm, for up to 4 hours. Visits are limited to 2 hours in the Intensive Care Units.
  • Essential Care Partners must stay with patients at all times. They are not allowed to travel around the hospital. Essential Care Partners are not allowed to leave and re-enter the hospital on the same day.
  • These rules apply to visits both inside and outside the hospital.

Appointments, Tests & Day Surgery

  • Outpatients are allowed one Essential Care Partner to accompany them to their appointment, if essential (e.g., if someone has mobility, cognitive needs, significant language barriers, under 18 years, intellectual or developmental disability)
  • Your Essential Care Partner must be approved before your visit.
  • Essential Care Partners may be asked to wait in hallways or other waiting areas to allow for physical distancing between patients in the waiting room.
  • Essential Care Partners may also be asked to leave the hospital and come back when the patient is ready leave, if required for physical distancing.
Day Surgery
  • TW Day Surgery - Essential Care Partners are not able to stay with the patient on Pre-Operative Care Unit before surgery or the Post-Anesthetic Care Unit. The health care team will contact you when the patient is ready to be picked up.
  • TG Day Surgery - One Essential Care Partner can stay with the patient in the Pre-Operative Care Unit. Essential Care Partners may stay in the surgical waiting room until the patient is ready to leave. At that time they can come to the day surgery unit to pick up the patient to go home. Essential Care Partners may not enter the Post-Anesthetic Care Unit.

Emergency Department

  • If a patient is unable to be alone in the Emergency Department because of mobility issues, cognitive needs, significant language barriers, are under 18 years, or have an intellectual or developmental disability, one Essential Care Partner will be allowed to accompany them.
  • Essential Care Partners are not allowed in some areas of the Emergency Department, because of physical space limitations. We may ask your Essential Care Partner to wait in hallways or a separate waiting area, or leave the hospital and come back when the patient is ready to leave.
  • Please discuss your situation with the staff at the entrance to the Emergency Department. You may also speak with a Charge Nurse, Manager or Administrator-On-Call.
Frequently Asked Questions

All inpatients at any UHN hospital may have one Essential Care Partner visit the hospital each day. Patients coming for an outpatient (daytime) appointment may have one Essential Care Partner to support their care at UHN.

Call the clinic or inpatient unit as early as possible before your visit or appointment. Speak with the unit manager or another member of your health care team about your situation, needs, and options.

If the manager is not available, the administrator-in-charge can also discuss approval.

You must have your Essential Care Partner approved before your visit on the following units:

  • Toronto General & Toronto Western — all inpatient units
  • Toronto General and Toronto Western — Intensive Care Units

If you are coming for an appointment at some of our clinics, you will need to have your Essential Care Partner approved before your visit. This is because of limited space or construction in those areas.

  • All Essential Care Partners must check in at the unit and provide their contact information. We ask for contact information in case we need to do contact tracing.
  • Depending on the area you are coming to, your Essential Care Partner may be asked to come at a scheduled time, to wear an ID badge, or receive training for properly putting on and removing personal protective equipment (PPE). There may be other requirements you need to follow.
  • Your Essential Care Partner must stay with you at all times. Essential Care Partners are not allowed to travel around the hospital.
  • In some cases, Essential Care Partners may be asked to wait in hallways or other waiting areas to allow for physical distancing between patients in the waiting room.
  • Inpatients: Essential Care Partners are not allowed to leave and re-enter the hospital on the same day.
    Outpatients: Essential Care Partners may be asked to leave the hospital and come back when the patient is ready leave.
  • If you are staying overnight in the hospital, your visitor may come to the hospital between 8:00 am to 9:00 pm. The visit can last for up to 4 hours.
    For patients in Intensive Care Units: Visits can last for up to 2 hours.

Please review our COVID-19 Information page for the most up-to-date, important information about preparing for your visit, and read the handout, What essential care partners need to know before coming to UHN .

Please note that, for the safety of other patients, visitors and our staff, our clinic and unit managers must follow the hospital's policies on who can be allowed to enter UHN during the pandemic.

They are only able to permit Essential Care Partners for patients or situations that fit within the current safety criteria.

If you are declined approval but feel that you should be eligible you can contact UHN Patient Relations at 416 340 4907 or patientrelations@uhn.ca.

While an exception may not be possible, the Patient Relations team will help work with you to understand if there is information that the team was not aware of when making their decision.

It is likely that if you come to the hospital without prior approval, that you will not be allowed to enter. There may be exceptions in very urgent or emergency situations, but these will be limited.

Please follow the approval process to help us ensure a safe environment for our patients, other visitors and staff.

Important: Children under the age of 16 who are not patients are not permitted to enter UHN at this time. Please do not bring children with you to an appointment or to visit. Some exceptions may be made in special situations, but must also be approved in advance by a unit or clinic manager.

Yes, the hospital is safe for patients and Essential Care Partner. We have taken many steps to ensure the safety and well-being of our patients and those providing care to them during the COVID-19 pandemic, some of which include:

If you have been approved as an Essential Care Partner, please read this quick guide before coming to the hospital: What Essential Care Partners need to know before coming to UHN .

No. Please do not come to the hospital as a visitor if:

  • You have any symptoms of COVID-19
  • You have tested positive for COVID-19
  • You have had close contact with someone who has COVID-19
  • You have had close contact with someone who has suspected COVID-19

If you are staying overnight in the hospital and your Essential Care Partner is not able to visit you, ask your health care team if you can use a tablet on the unit to have a virtual visit with your Essential Care Partner or other family members.

If your Essential Care Partner is not able to join you at the hospital for an outpatient appointment, they can join you over the phone. Call them on your phone and use the speakerphone so everyone can hear each other.

You can also ask your health care team if you can record your appointment to share with your caregiver later.

  • You can only record in a private setting such as a clinic room.
  • Everyone in the room must agree to be recorded.

Important: To protect everyone's privacy, audio and video recording is not allowed in public and common areas of the hospital.

A change in Essential Care Partner access requires a thoughtful and slow reintegration.

The readiness of a hospital to increase Essential Care Partner access depends on many factors, including the risk of outbreak in the hospital and community, access to personal protective equipment (PPE) and critical supplies, ability to maintain physical distancing and the volume of people entering the hospital. These factors will be monitored closely each day. Changes to the status of any one of these factors, or an increase in cases of COVID-19 in the community or within UHN, may impact who qualifies to have an Essential Care Partner, the length or frequency of visits, or the number of Essential Care Partners permitted into the hospital.