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UHN's No Visitors Policy is still in effect, with exceptions for essential visitors ("Essential Care Partners") only. There continues to be no access for the public, or for visitors or caregivers who have not been pre-approved by a unit or clinic manager. We are working hard to find a balance between increasing family presence while also protecting our patients and staff from COVID-19.

This policy is in place to help reduce the number of people inside our hospital spaces to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Please read the information below to learn more about when an Essential Care Partner may be approved to access UHN.

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 has been deemed necessary for the safety and well-being of a patient while they are inside the hospital based on criteria defined by the Ministry of Health.

An Essential Care Partner could be a family member, friend, neighbour, paid private caregiver, or someone else. It is up to the patient (or their Substitute Decision Maker) who they choose to request to be their Essential Care Partner.

The decision on whether an Essential Care Partner is approved to enter the hospital is made through a discussion between the patient, the potential Essential Care Partner, the patient's health care team, and the unit or clinic manager.

How UHN is preparing for more Essential Care Partner access

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.

Effective June 29, 2020: Essential Care Partner eligibility at UHN

Access is being determined by the factors listed above, and careful consideration by the Unit or Clinic Manager based on the patient's health status and the clinical environment.

Different care areas may have different capacities for Essential Care Partner access due to space, clinical activity levels, types of services offered, and the nature of their patient population. The safety of all patients in the care area must be the priority.

Overview of situations where an Essential Care Partner may be approved:

An Essential Care Partner may be approved for patients on inpatient units who are:

  • Receiving end of life care
  • Having, or have just had, a major surgery
  • Who are critically ill
  • Who have long hospital stays (over 30 days)
  • Being discharged that day

Approved Essential Care Partners would be able to access an inpatient unit *:

  • For 2 to 3 hours at a time (1 hour for Intensive Care Units)
  • Between 11:00 am and 9:00 pm (any day of the week)

*Exceptions apply. Specific access times and visit lengths must be discussed with the unit manager.

An Essential Care Partner may be approved for patients coming for an outpatient appointment who are:

  • Unable to safely attend a critical outpatient service (appointment, test, treatment) without having a support person (escort) present

Additional circumstances when an Essential Care Partner may be approved may include:

  • When a patient is having a mental health crisis
  • When a patient has an intellectual or developmental disability
  • When a patient has cognitive impairment, or difficulty communicating due to an injury or illness (i.e., aphasia)

Please discuss these situations with the unit manager. Often, hospital staff and the health care team are able to provide appropriate support in these situations.

The Unit or Clinic Manager must approve an Essential Care Partner in advance of the hospital visit. As mentioned above, this decision is based on a number of factors.

We kindly ask that you only request approval to be or have an Essential Care Partner if it truly is essential.

Your cooperation helps us to ensure that we:

  • Have enough room inside our care spaces to allow patients with critical appointments and treatments to physically distance, reducing potential exposure to COVID-19
  • Can continue to increase our clinical services, allowing more patients to safely access UHN without increasing risk
  • Are giving our Clinic and Unit Managers the ability to focus on reviewing and approving requests for Essential Care Partners for our patients who need the most support

Thank you for your helping us keep our patients and staff safe!

You or the patient can call a member of your care team and ask to speak with the Unit or Clinic Manager. Please contact the Manager as far in advance as possible. This will give them time to review your situation and make a decision.

If you aren’t sure of how to connect, contact information can be found here:

Your name will be added by the manager to a list of approved Essential Care Partners for the day and time of your approved visit. You will give entrance screeners your name when you arrive.

Depending on the area you are coming to, you 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.

The Unit or Clinic Manager will provide you with some of these instructions before you arrive, and some may be discussed once you get to the hospital.

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 phase.

If you are declined approval but feel that you should be eligible based on the current criteria, you can contact UHN Patient Relations. 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. If you have any symptoms of, or have tested positive for, COVID-19, or have had close contact with someone who has COVID-19, you should be self-isolating at home and you should not come to the hospital.

First speak with the patients care team, Unit or Clinic Manager. If you still have concerns after discussing with the care team, you can reach out to UHN Patient Relations.


Can I bring a family member or other companion to my appointment or during treatment?

No. This policy applies to all visits — including clinical appointments, tests and treatments, and ambulatory care. If there is a specific concern for your situation, please call your clinic or appropriate area to obtain approval before arriving at the hospital.

Can I have visitors while I am in the hospital?

No, we are not allowing visitors in the hospital at this time to protect them from COVID-19 transmission. We understand how difficult this is. Patient and staff safety is our top priority.

People who come to the hospital to support patients may bring in COVID-19 without knowing it. The risk of spreading COVID-19 in the hospital gets higher with each person who enters.

These limits apply to all hospital visits, including:

  • stays at the hospital (inpatient units)
  • appointments
  • tests and treatments
  • ambulatory care

This change will last until the Government of Ontario tells us it is safe to remove these limits. As difficult as it is, the limits keep everyone as safe as possible.

When can an exception be made for visitors?

The unit manager may approve caregivers or visitors to enter the hospital in special situations. They must approve the visit before your caregiver or visitor comes to the hospital.

These special situations are for:

  • patients who are receiving end-of-life care or are critically ill. We may ask visitors to visit only 1 time each day.
  • patients who have just had critical (life-saving) surgery.
  • patients who are frail and need a caregiver for their safety.

We do not make exceptions for visits to the Emergency Department.

Important: Please do not bring caregivers or visitors to the hospital if they have not been approved by the unit manager.

How to ask for visitor approval

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 options.

  • Caregiver or visitor approval is for a specific person, day, clinic and hospital. It cannot be used for a different person, day, clinic or hospital.
  • You will need to ask for approval for each appointment, such as:
    • appointments in different clinics on the same day.
    • appointments in the same clinic on different days.
  • Ask the unit manager about your situation. If the unit manager is not available, the administrator-in-charge can also approve a visit.

What to do if you have caregiver or visitor approval

When you get caregiver or visitor approval:

  • You get a letter from the manager or administrator-in-charge approving your caregiver or visitor. Show it to the staff at the hospital entrance when you arrive for your visit.


  • Your visitor’s name is added to a list given to staff at the hospital entrance. Your visitor tells staff at the hospital entrance their name and who they are visiting when they arrive.

All approved caregivers or visitors must pass the screening criteria before entering the hospital. This means they cannot have any symptoms: fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat or shortness of breath, and they cannot have travelled outside of Canada in the last 14 days.

Any visitor or caregiver that fails the screening criteria will not be allowed to enter.

Who can I contact if I disagree with a decision to not allow visitors for my situation?

Speak with the unit manager first. You may contact Patient Relations at 416 340 4907 or if you need more help after speaking with the unit manager.