Visitors are not permitted at Sunnybrook. Read more »

COVID-19 (2019 novel coronavirus): Info & Reosurces
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COVID-19 (coronavirus): Information & frequently asked questions

- Updated March 26, 2020

Visitors are not permitted at Sunnybrook during the COVID-19 pandemic

In order to ensure the safety of our patients and staff, there will be no visitors permitted at Sunnybrook during the COVID-19 pandemic, until further notice. This includes family members or companions accompanying patients to appointments or procedures. We understand that this is a difficult change for those with loved ones who need to be in the hospital, but it is an important precaution being put in place to ensure the safety of all those at Sunnybrook, including our sickest and most vulnerable patients.

New visitor policy: No visitors permitted at Sunnybrook. Read full details

In order to ensure the safety of our patients and staff, there will be no visitors permitted at Sunnybrook during the COVID-19 pandemic, until further notice. This includes family members or companions accompanying patients to appointments or procedures. We understand that this is a difficult change for those with loved ones who need to be in the hospital, but it is an important precaution being put in place to ensure the safety of all those at Sunnybrook, including our sickest and most vulnerable patients.

Some exceptions will be allowed in certain areas of the hospital. If an exception below is met, only one visitor will be allowed per patient. To protect our patients and staff, these visitors will not be permitted into the hospital if they have symptoms of illness.

  • Parent of a baby in the NICU: One parent may be with their baby at all times, including overnight, provided the parent is asymptomatic
  • Birthing partner of a woman in labour
  • Visitor for an imminently dying patient (i.e. expected within 48 hours)
  • Patient with mental health condition or physical disability who requires an attendant or support person
  • Patients rushed into the ED (trauma, stroke, etc.) will be permitted one accompanying visitor

Screening for symptoms at the door

We are screening all patients for symptoms at the door. We will also be restricting access to specific doors on all of our sites.

If you are feeling any of the below symptoms prior to your appointment, please call the clinic or health-care provider you are seeing. They can advise on next steps.

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Sore throat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Entryway restrictions at Sunnybrook's campuses

Bayview Campus

Patients are only be able to access our Bayview Campus using the below entrances:

  • M-Wing, First floor (main entrance) (M1)
  • D-Wing, Ground floor (DG)
  • T-Wing, east entrance


(Click map to view a larger version)

Our Emergency Department entrance is also open for those who are coming to Sunnybrook for emergency care.

COVID-19 Assessment Centre

Patients who are going to our COVID-19 Assessment Centre must only enter Sunnybrook through our U-Wing entrance. More information.

Veterans Centre & palliative care unit (Bayview Campus)

For information about entry restrictions for our Veterans Centre and palliative care unit, please visit this page.

All other sites

For all other sites (the Holland Centre, St. John’s Rehab and the Reactivation Care Centre), screening will begin this week at the main entrances of each of these sites. Access will be restricted to the main entrance for all of these locations.

Staying connected to patients during the COVID-19 pandemic

While we have restricted visitors to the hospital, we want to ensure that you stay connected with your loved one who is in the hospital during this time.

Below are are some ways you can stay connected.

Telephone calls:

There are no fees for local calls on bedside phones.

FaceTime or Google Hangouts:

If your loved one does not have their own device, let the care team know. We can help set up a “visit” on an iPad or Android that is carefully cleaned between uses.

Gift shop delivery:

Sunnybrook Gift Shop is open and it delivers to patient rooms at our Bayview Campus and Holland Centre. Send your loved one something to let them know you are thinking of them (ear buds and phone chargers are also available). 

Other:

There are other programs in development. Please check back here for updates.

Questions about appointments, surgeries & coming to the hospital

Is the hospital safe?

Sunnybrook is safe for patients and staff, and the hospital remains open. However, Sunnybrook has taken some precautionary steps to reduce the number of people in the hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic. These include:

  • Encouraging virtual health-care visits whenever possible
  • Cancelling non-urgent visits to the hospital
  • Screening for symptoms at hospital entrances
  • Restricting visitors at all Sunnybrook campuses

Will my appointment go ahead as scheduled?

In order to reduce the number of people in the hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are encouraging our health-care workers to have virtual visits with their patients, and to cancel any non-urgent visits.

If you have an upcoming appointment and are feeling unwell, please call your health-care provider ahead of your visit.

If you have any questions about your upcoming appointment or procedure, please contact your health-care provider’s office directly.

Why was my appointment cancelled?

While Sunnybrook is safe and remains open to our patients, we are taking some precautionary steps during the COVID-19 pandemic to help limit the number of people in the hospital during this time. This includes the cancellation of any non-urgent visits to the hospital.

If you have any questions about your specific situation, please contact your health-care provider directly for more information.

Why was my x-ray, ultrasound, MRI, CT, or other medical imaging appointment cancelled?

All non-urgent medical imaging appointments before May 1, 2020 will be cancelled and rescheduled at a later date once the current situation stabilizes. Our medical imaging team will contact you if your appointment needs to be rescheduled. If you are called, please disregard your original appointment information in MyChart.

Why was my surgery cancelled?

The Ontario Ministry of Health has asked Ontario hospitals to ramp down elective surgeries during the COVID-19 pandemic. This decision has been made by the government to help maximize hospital resources, and prioritize services.

An elective surgery is a surgery that is planned in advance and is not a medical emergency.

Sunnybrook is following these guidelines, and will be postponing surgeries that may be done safely at a later time. All decisions to postpone surgeries have been made with careful consideration, in consultation with each patient’s health-care team. Surgeries will only be postponed if deemed medically safe.

A member of your health-care team will contact you if you surgery date is affected by these changes.

We understand this is not an ideal situation, and we appreciate your understanding during this time. If you have any questions about your upcoming surgery, please talk to your health-care provider directly for more information.

I can’t get through on the phone. What do I do?

We are experiencing a high volume of phone calls. We understand that this is frustrating at this uncertain time. Thank you for your patience as our staff work to answer questions and re-book appointments.

Can I pick up my prescription at the M-Wing or Odette Cancer Centre pharmacies?

You can still pick up your prescription at the pharmacies. Please note you will be screened at the door for symptoms.

Why is seating restricted in waiting rooms and dining areas?

You may see signage or tape on seats in waiting and dining spaces across the hospital. These restrictions have been put in place in common areas to signal physical distancing among patients.

Are volunteers still at the hospital?

In order to ensure the safety of our volunteers, patients, and staff, and in line with “physical distancing” guidelines, the hospital has made the decision to cancel all volunteer activities and roles at all hospital sites until further notice.

Do I need to wear a mask?

No. It is not necessary to wear a mask unless your health-care provider has recommended this or unless you have respiratory symptoms such as a cough or cold when you are coming to your appointment.

We need to conserve this equipment and ensure we have enough of it for front-line staff. Ensuring that doctors, nurses, and other front-line staff have the appropriate equipment while treating patients with COVID-19 reduces the spread of this infection and allows them to keep working to keep all of us safe.

About the virus

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness. Symptoms of COVID-19 may include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Fatigue
  • Runny nose
  • Joint aches

How can I protect myself?

Physical distancing is an important measure we must take to reduce the spread of COVID-19. This means: stay home. Do not go out unless you have to, such as to get groceries once per week.

If you must go out (e.g. for your weekly grocery haul), keep a six-foot distance from others. That’s about the maximum distance that droplets from a person’s cough or sneeze can travel, which is one of the ways the virus is spread.

If you are ill (even with mild symptoms) it is especially important that you stay home to prevent the risk of spreading your illness to others. Ask someone to purchase groceries for you, or use a delivery service.

Other ways that we can prevent the spread of COVID-19:

  • Hand washing: Wash your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer to help prevent exposure to, and transmission of, illness.
  • Practising proper cough and sneeze etiquette: By coughing/sneezing into a tissue, or into your sleeve or arm (and immediately washing your hands afterwards)
  • Not touching your face: A virus's port of entry is your eyes, nose, mouth
  • Cleaning your hands before eating/drinking
  • Cleaning frequently touched objects and surfaces: Like bathroom sinks, kitchen counters, etc.

For vulnerable populations (people who are immunocompromised, seniors and pregnant women) should extra precautions be taken to protect myself from this illness?

The COVID-19 pandemic is a concerning time for our community, and in particular for those who are immunocompromised, elderly or pregnant. Researchers are still studying this novel coronavirus and how it affects people who are vulnerable.

Sunnybrook’s Infection Prevention and Control team has these reminders to help reduce your risk of catching this or other infectious illnesses:

  • Do during the COVID-19 pandemic what you routinely do to protect yourself: wash your hands, keep them away from your face, stay away from people who are unwell.
  • Practice physical distancing: We’ve been hearing this a lot. It means limit your close contact with others, stay away from crowds, and keep 2 m physical space from others. Stay at home as much as possible. This helps reduce the spread in the community, thus protecting you further.
  • Carry hand sanitizer if you must go out, and clean your hands frequently.
  • If someone in your home is ill with a fever, cough, cold or other infectious illness, spread out if possible. Designate some space for each of you. Sleep separately if you don’t already and you have the space to do so. The person who is sick with cough, cold, fever, etc. should wear a mask when they are with you.
  • Wipe down high-touch surfaces daily.
  • Physicians in Ontario are encouraged to move to virtual visits. Ask your doctor if that’s possible for your next appointment.
  • And lastly, have a conversation with loved ones and friends about what they can do to protect you and how important it is: wash their hands, keep their hands away from their face; stay home when unwell; practice physical distancing — this means stay home as much as possible.

How does COVID-19 spread?

Research shows that the COVID-19 virus is spread through close contact with an infected person.

This close contact can occur in two ways: droplet and contact.

Droplets means respiratory droplets produced by an infected person’s sneeze or cough. These can travel up to 6 feet (1.8 metres). A person becomes infected when droplets from a cough or sneeze directly enter the body through the eyes, mouth or nose.

Contact means touching a person or object directly, such as door handles, that have droplets on them from an infected person’s cough or sneeze. Unwashed hands contaminated with COVID-19 can introduce the virus to your body when you touch your eyes, mouth or nose.

Learn more about how COVID-19 spreads

Washing your hands often and avoiding touching your face are two very important ways to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

More tips and information on protecting against COVID-19

How is Sunnybrook prepared to handle this virus?

Our experience in treating infectious diseases and managing outbreaks, as well as our extensive training, has helped prepare us for this type of issue. Our infection prevention and control team has been working with our emergency department and many other areas of the hospital to ensure screening is taking place and proper precautions such as personal protective equipment are in use to safeguard our staff and patients. Sunnybrook continues to work closely with Toronto Public Health, the federal and provincial governments, and other health partners.

What does "community transmission" mean?

COVID-19 is circulating in the community in Toronto. This means that people who have not travelled outside of Canada are at similar risk for COVID-19 as those who have travelled. Because there is COVID-19 circulating in the community, this makes travel history less relevant to a person’s risk of developing the virus. Instead, it makes it all the more important to self-monitor for symptoms, even mild, and to ensure we are staying home if we feel even the slightest bit unwell.

The news says this illness is very easily spread by people who have no symptoms. Can you explain if this it true?

COVID-19 can spread from people with mild symptoms. It’s important to understand that this is not the same as no symptoms.

In the majority of instances, COVID-19 spreads person-to-person via people who are symptomatic. These people have a cough or fever and feel unwell.

To be safe, though, it is important for everyone to self-monitor for symptoms. If you have even mild symptoms, stay home.

What exactly is a pandemic?

When we talk about a pandemic, we're talking about a new virus spreading across the globe and across countries affecting a high proportion of the population. It’s important to remember that “pandemic” is not related to the severity of an illness, or the number of fatalities associated with an illness. 

I am a Sunnybrook staff member, physician or student. Where can I get the latest information that pertains to me?

All Sunnybrook staff, physicians and residents should continue to check Sunnynet and their Sunnybrook email inboxes for the latest updates. Students, residents and clinical fellows could also visit our dedicated information for students and learners.

Screening and travel-related inquiries

I recently travelled outside of Canada and have developed symptoms of COVID-19. What do I do?

If you have travelled outside of Canada and are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, stay home and please contact Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000, your local health-care provider, or Toronto Public Health at 416-338-7600 (or the local public health authority in your province or territory if you reside outside of Toronto) for information on screening and next-steps.

I haven't travelled but i have symptoms of COVID-19. What do i do?

If you haven't travelled outside of Canada and are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, stay home and please contact Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000, your local health-care provider, or Toronto Public Health at 416-338-7600 (or the local public health authority in your province or territory if you reside outside of Toronto) for information on screening and next-steps.

Should I go to an assessment centre?

Use the Ministry of Health's assessment tool to help determine if you should seek care from a COVID-19 assessment centre.

Is travel still a risk factor for COVID-19?

COVID-19 is circulating in the community in Toronto. This means that people who have not travelled outside of Canada are at similar risk for COVID-19 as those who have travelled. Because there is COVID-19 circulating in the community, this makes travel history less relevant to a person’s risk of developing the virus. Instead, it makes it all the more important to self-monitor for symptoms, even mild, and to ensure we are staying home if we feel even the slightest bit unwell.

Why don’t health-care workers have to self-isolate for 14 days after travel?

It is always Sunnybrook policy that staff are not to come to work if they have any symptoms of illness, even mild. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Sunnybrook continues to uphold and enforce this policy.

We are aware that there are government directives for people who have travelled outside of Canada to self-isolate for 14 days after travel. However, the Ontario Ministry of Health has indicated that health-care workers who are deemed critical to continue operations are permitted to continue to work.

Our ability to provide safe and quality care to our patients across our various care programs and departments depends on our health-care workers.

This is why it is Sunnybrook’s policy during the COVID-19 pandemic to allow our health-care workers to return to work after travel if they do not have symptoms. No Sunnybrook employee, regardless of travel, may come to work with symptoms, even mild ones.

As an extra precaution for those who have recent travel history, these health-care workers are required to self-monitor daily, and take their temperature twice a day. As previously mentioned, if they develop even mild symptoms, they cannot come to work.

It’s important to note that at this time, people who have not travelled outside of Canada are at a similar risk for COVID-19 as those who have travelled. COVID-19 is in the community, which makes travel history less relevant, but makes monitoring for symptoms, even mild, highly important.

When somebody is required to follow self-isolation protocols, what does that mean?

Public health has established self-isolation protocols for people who are required to self-isolate due to COVID-19. Below you can find some self-isolation guides:

Toronto Public Health

Public Health Ontario

For more information about self-isolation, please visit toronto.ca/coronavirus or the Public Health Ontario website.


Tips and information from Sunnybrook experts

Mental health information:

Tips for health-care workers:


Update on COVID-19 cases in Ontario

For the most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19 cases in Ontario, please visit the Ontario Ministry of Health's website.


COVID-19 research

Read about how a Canadian research team has isolated the COVID-19 virus, and learn how this will help researchers develop better diagnostic testing, treatments and vaccines.

Donate to COVID-19 research »