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Emergency department visitor information

To protect patients, families and staff from COVID-19, the Emergency Department (ED) carefully consideres its approach to visitors. 

We know that visitors/essential care partners (ECPs) are important to our patients. Each patient in our Emergency Department will now be allowed one ECP for up to 3 hours per day.

To ensure the continued safety of our patients, families and staff, the following protocols are in place:

  • Blue zone, Green zone, central hallway: ECPs should remain in their patient’s rooms/areas at all times.
  • Orange zone, Purple zone: ECPs should wait in the main waiting room. If ECPs are needed during the nurse/physician assessment, they will be escorted to the patient’s room. Following the assessment, ECPs will need to return to the main waiting room. Exceptions will be made for vulnerable patients.

All ECPs must wear a mask continuously without exception. Please note that there is no eating or drinking allowed in the Emergency Department.

What if I’m not eligible to visit as an Essential Care Partner?

Here are a few things that may help improve your experience: 
  • Stay connected through MyChart – MyChart is a free, online health record system you can review while at home to stay connected to your loved ones health record and health care team. Sign up today!
  • If the patient is able to, and has a mobile phone, stay connected through calls and messaging – we have free WIFI available for our patients while in hospital (guest WIFI network: SW_guest; password: SunnybrookGuest).
  • Virtual visits – Sunnybrook has tablets for our teams to help patients connect with their friends and families through a virtual call. Inquire about a scheduled virtual visit when you are able to speak with the patient’s nurse, social worker or someone else on their care team.

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 in situations of vulnerability: Patient is under 18 years of age, and has cognitive impairment, significant developmental and/or intellectual disability, and/or patient is at significant risk of wandering and/or falls.
  2. Patients who are critically ill.
  3. Patients with a life-altering event: at end of life (within two weeks), giving birth, and/or to facilitate a goals of care or complex discharge conversation.
  4. Patients who are imminently dying (including due to withdrawal of care that could lead to imminent death).

In these exceptional circumstances, the Emergency Department may consider additional visitation.

Triage and registration

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

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 continuously. NO EXCEPTIONS. You will be asked to leave if this is not being done.
  4. Must wash hands frequently.
  5. Eating and drinking in the department are not allowed (as the mask must be removed for this).
  6. There are no in/out privileges and the ECP must be the same person throughout the patient’s stay.
  7. 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 policies and 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