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Emergency department visitor information

To protect patients, families and staff from COVID-19, the Emergency Department (ED) only allows visits by “Essential Care Partners” (ECPs) for some patients and in exceptional circumstances, and if we can maintain physical distancing. Our ED is very small and conditions are always changing, therefore ensuring physical distancing is a challenge. We know how important visitors are to our patients; however, ED staff need to assess on a patient-by-patient basis when a visitor can safely be allowed.

What is an Essential Care Partner?

An ECP is one support person identified by the patient. The ECP must be a member of the patient’s support circle (e.g. family member, caregiver, friend, etc.). ECPs must be aged 16 or older.

Exceptional circumstances:

  1. Patients with life-altering event to facilitate a goals of care conversation where required
  2. Patients in situations of vulnerability: Patient is under 18 years of age, cognitive impairment, significant developmental and/or intellectual disability, or unable to effectively communicate
  3. Patients requiring assistance with significant care and safety needs
  4. Patients requiring transition of care support: e.g. complex discharge or admission
  5. Patients who are imminently dying (including due to withdrawal of care that could lead to immediate death): visitors may be present two at a time to say goodbye and two visitors may be present at time of withdrawal of care and stay until patient passes.
  6. Patients who are critically ill (e.g. trauma patients, stroke patients, and others who are critically ill)

Triage and registration:

If deemed necessary by the ED team, one ECP may accompany the patient through triage and registration. During registration, we encourage the patient to designate one person for the healthcare team to phone after the patient’s assessment (once they are inside the department).

Waiting rooms:

After triage and registration, the ECP must leave the department (e.g. wait outside) while the patient waits to be seen inside the department.

Inside the department:

Only in exceptional circumstances (see above) and if the patient is in a private room, will an ECP be allowed to enter the Emergency Department. Patients are sometimes moved within the department; if the patient is moved out of a private room, then the ECP will have to leave.

Rules for permitted ECPs:

  1. ECP must have no symptoms of COVID-19, or other indications for self-isolation (such as recent travel).
  2. Please stay with the patient in their room, exiting only briefly if necessary to use the washroom.
  3. Wear a mask properly (covering both nose and mouth) and wash hands frequently. Eating and drinking in the department are not allowed.
  4. There are no in/out privileges and the ECP must be the same person throughout the patient’s stay.
  5. Please use a call bell if you need help.

Patients who are admitted to hospital from the Emergency Department:

If the patient needs to be admitted (move up to an inpatient bed), then the patient’s new care team will determine if it is safe for them to have a visitor on that particular unit, taking into account their particular health situation and the physical limitations of the unit. Please ask the Emergency Department team how to contact the inpatient team.

Please ask a member of the Emergency Department care team if you have questions about visitors. For more visitor information, please visit