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Visitor and caregiver information

Last updated: November 23, 2020

We know how important visitors are to our patients; however, it is vital to keep patient, staff and visitor safety our number one priority. Please view our visitation details for our in-patients and outpatients below.

In most cases, the hospital is inviting one designated essential care partner to visit with an in-patient for a maximum of two hours each day. For patients who are short stay or have lower acuity, visitors will not be permitted at this time.

These guidelines do not apply to the Veterans Centre/Palliative Care Unit, Emergency Department or our Birthing Unit, High-Risk Obstetrics Unit and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). For information on these and our other Sunnybrook sites' visitor policies, please see the area-specific visitor guidelines linked below.

Please note: As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, so will our visitor policy. We are carefully preparing for more essential care partner access; however, we may be required to scale back our current policy at any time, in the interest of keeping our patients, visitors and staff safe.

In-patients

Patients who are admitted to the hospital for care

With the exception of short-stay patients (those who are expected to be in hospital for three days or fewer), in-patients are permitted to have one designated essential care partner (aged 16+) visit them in hospital for a maximum of two hours each day.

After they are admitted to the hospital, the in-patient (or their substitute decision maker) should tell the care team who their essential care partner will be. The patient’s care team (e.g. social worker, nurse, patient care manager) will add the essential care partner to the hospital’s visitor list and they will be able to visit the patient in the hospital.

No alternate essential care partner is permitted to visit. This means that if a designated essential care partner cannot visit, no other person is permitted to visit in their place.

The essential care partner is welcome to visit the patient for two hours, between the hours of 11 a.m. and 7 p.m., seven days a week at a scheduled time. Please schedule your visiting times with the specific care location.

To reach the patient's care location, you can call the unit directly or call patient inquiry at 416-480-4246 and ask to be forwarded to the patient’s unit.

In special circumstances, exceptions to the above policy may be made for patients who:

  • Are under 18 years of age
  • Are at the end of life within less than two weeks
  • Have a significant cognitive impairment

In these circumstances, please connect with the patient’s care team directly for more information.

If you are an approved essential care partner, please practice physical distancing (keep 2 meters/6 feet distance from others), wear a mandatory mask or face covering, and practice hand hygiene while in the hospital.

Area-specific visitor guidelines

This visitor policy is in effect for Sunnybrook's Bayview campus (exceptions listed below) and St. John's Rehab campus. Please view the below pages for visitor guidelines for excepted areas:

Outpatients

Patients coming to the hospital for appointments or procedures

One essential care partner can accompany a patient to their outpatient appointment/procedure/treatment in the following circumstances:

  • Patient or staff safety may be compromised without the care partner present.
  • Support is required for mobility or cognitive impairments (e.g. wandering/falls risk, sensory impairment, or requiring support attending to personal care).
  • Discussions of life-altering care decisions or goals of care will take place.
  • Undue hardship to the patient or visitor/companion will occur if the companion is not present (rationale required)

Essential care partners must be approved by the patient’s care team or doctor’s office before attending an appointment/procedure.

If you are the loved one of a patient who meets the above criteria, please connect with the patient’s care team to be added to the hospital’s visitor list.

If you are an approved essential care partner, please practice physical distancing (keep 2 meters/6 feet distance from others), wear a mandatory mask or face covering, and practice hand hygiene while in the hospital.

We understand this is a challenging time for our outpatients who are unable to have a companion accompany them to hospital appointments. Physical space in our waiting rooms, patient care areas, hallways, etc. is limited. In order to ensure safe physical distancing, it is important that we continue to limit traffic to those who need to be here the most. We are looking forward to welcoming back all visitors and companions once it is safe to do so.

Emergency Department information

Frequently asked questions

How can I become an essential care partner for my loved one?

In-patients

With the exception of short-stay patients (those who are expected to be in hospital for three days or fewer), in-patients are permitted to have one designated essential care partner (aged 16+) visit them while in hospital for a maximum of two hours each day. 

After they are admitted, the in-patient (or their substitute decision maker) should tell their care team who their essential care partner will be. The patient’s care team (e.g. social worker, nurse, patient care manager) will add the essential care partner to the hospital’s visitor list. Once added to the visitor list, the essential care partner can begin scheduling visits with the patient's care team.

To reach the patient’s care team, you can either call them directly, or call patient inquiry at 416-480-4246 and ask to be forwarded to the patient’s unit/care team.

Outpatients

If your loved one requires the support of an essential care partner during their outpatient appointment (see examples and criteria above), please connect with your loved one’s care team to be added to the hospital’s visitor list. An outpatient must meet these criteria in order for the essential care partner request to be approved.

To reach the patient’s care team, you can either call them directly, or call patient inquiry at 416-480-4246 and ask to be forwarded to the patient’s doctor’s office.

Outpatients may only have one designated essential care partner, and the essential care partner must be approved by the patient’s care team or doctor’s office before accompanying the patient to the hospital.

What do I need to know before I visit?

  • Remember: An essential care partner must be approved by the patient’s care team before scheduling hospital visits (in-patients), or accompanying a patient to an appointment (outpatients). Please review this process above.
  • An essential care partner must schedule visits with the patient’s care team/unit prior to visiting the hospital
  • Visiting hours at the Bayview campus are 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. (with exceptions for patients at end of life, and parents of babies in the NICU)
  • Essential care partners should sign in with their name, date/time and phone number (in case these are required for contact tracing purposes)
  • All visitors will be screened for symptoms of COVID-19 at the entrance
  • All visitors must practice hand hygiene and wear a mask in all areas of the hospital including hallways, washrooms etc. (or other personal protective equipment as required).
  • No in/out privileges
  • Gloves should not be worn in the hospital
  • Visitors must not eat or drink in the patient room
  • Visitors must use public washrooms and cannot use patient washrooms
  • If visitors refuse to comply with the guidelines in place to keep everyone safe, they will be asked to leave the hospital.

When can I visit my loved one who is an in-patient at the hospital?

Normal COVID-19 visiting hours at the Bayview campus are 11 a.m. - 7 p.m. Times may vary between units (e.g. Palliative Care Unit, Veteran’s Centre) and depends on a patient’s individual circumstances, needs, and the patient's care unit. If you have been approved as an essential care partner for your loved one, please schedule hospital visits with the patient’s team directly. We welcome essential care partner visits for a maximum of two hours each day.

How can I appeal a decision that has been made regarding my situation or status as an essential care partner?

In order to ensure the safety of our patients, staff and visitors, decisions regarding essential care partners, hospital companions and visitation must be made within the hospital’s current guidelines and criteria. We understand this is frustrating and difficult for patients and their loved ones, but it is an important precaution to help limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect vulnerable patients.

If you would like to appeal a decision that was made regarding your situation or status as an essential care partner for an in-patient or outpatient, please contact the physician’s office or clinic. The Office of the Patient Experience may become involved through the process.

I'm an approved essential care partner for a Sunnybrook patient. Where do I enter the hospital during my scheduled visit(s)?

Why aren't all visitors able to visit patients right now?

We understand that our visiting guidelines are difficult for our patients, their loved ones, and the rest of the care team. We look forward to welcoming back all visitors to Sunnybrook as soon as it is safe. Until then, we are working to safely and steadily increase the number of essential care partners approved to be on-site.

Factors that our infection prevention and control teams are monitoring include:

  • Adequate supply of personal protective equipment (masks) to provide our patients and visitors
  • Adequate space in our waiting rooms, patient care areas, common areas, etc. to allow for patients and visitors to physically distance
  • COVID-19 activity in the hospital and in the community.

We continue to monitor the situation closely, and will continue to update our visitor policy as the COVID-19 situation evolves.

Are these guidelines in effect at all of Sunnybrook's campuses?

These visitor guidelines are in effect for Sunnybrook's Bayview campus (exceptions listed below) and St. John's Rehab campus. Please view the below pages for visitor guidelines for excepted areas:

Can I visit a loved one in the Emergency Department?

My loved one does not speak English. How will they understand what is going on if I cannot attend their appointments with them?

Sunnybrook offers free, professional translation services for our patients. To learn more about how to set up this service for your loved one’s appointment, please visit our interpretation services page.

I am dropping my loved one off for their outpatient appointment. Since I can't attend the appointment with them, what can I expect?

Here's what to expect when dropping off your loved one for their appointment:

  • When you arrive at the hospital you will be greeted by a screener. The screener will ask a series of questions before entry related to COVID-19 safety.
  • Directions to the appointment location will be provided if needed.
  • A porter will take your family member to and from their appointment if they need assistance.
  • It is recommended that, if possible, you wait in your vehicle for your family member so you can be physically distanced from others.

Why does the visitor policy at Sunnybrook keep changing?

As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, so does our visitor policy. We are carefully preparing for more essential care partner access; however, we may be required to scale back our current policy at any time, in the interest of keeping our patients, visitors and staff safe.

If a family hires a professional care worker to augment hospital care, does that person count as an essential care partner?

Each in-patient may designate one essential care partner. If a professional care worker is hired, they would count as the one essential care partner. No alternate essential care partner is permitted to visit

When do you think Sunnybrook will open up to more family/companions to outpatient appointments?

Physical space in our waiting rooms, patient care areas and hallways, etc. is limited. In order to ensure safe physical distancing and ensure we have enough space to see as many patients and provide as much care as we can, it is important that we continue to limit traffic to those who need to be here the most.

Unfortunately, this means that only in certain situations, such as when an outpatient has wandering behaviour or an appointment where life-altering care discussion will take place, can an outpatient have a have companion (please check Sunnynet for all criteria).

In order to open up to more companions, the Visitor Restoration Task Force continuously reviews key factors including

  • The degree of community spread and assessment of risk
  • Recommendations from Toronto Region
  • Recommendations from Sunnybrook's Infection Prevention and Control department

We are also looking at ways to increase the number of companions with initiatives such as such as plexiglass in larger seating areas and scheduling patient appointments to enable more opportunity for companions.

Information for loved ones 

Dropping food, clothing and other items for your loved one in hospital

While family members and loved ones cannot visit patients, clothing and other items can be dropped off for patients at the following times and locations:

  • Bayview campus: M1 entrance between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Holland Centre: front door screening desk between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday to Friday
  • Veterans Centre: L-wing entrance screening desk between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday to Friday
  • St. John’s Rehab: Main entrance between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., Monday to Friday
  • Reactivation Care Centre – Church Site: Please note that the RCC location is unable to accept drop offs of food or clothing for patients at this time.

You will need to be screened first, and you will not be allowed to enter the hospital. Place items in a bag labelled with patient’s name and unit; the bags will be delivered to units at regular intervals. Anything dropped off outside of these hours listed above will be delivered the following day.

A note about food items

Please note that only pre-packaged, non-perishable commercially prepared food items, or single-serving homemade food items, will be accepted. Food items must not require refrigeration or heating, and must be in a disposable container (containers and any leftovers will be thrown out). Please note that we cannot guarantee the food will get to the patient on the same day or at a particular time.

Flower delivery

There are no flower restrictions related specifically to COVID-19 at this time, however flower delivery is restricted on units caring for more vulnerable patients, including:

  • M2 (CRCU + CVICU)
  • M4 NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit)
  • B4 ICU (all rooms)
  • B5 ICU
  • C2
  • C3
  • C6 (Flowers are allowed on the unit, but not in patient rooms)
  • Complex Malignant Hematology (normally located on D4 but has been moved to B3 temporarily)
  • D4 ICU
  • D6
  • D7

Stay connected with patients during the COVID-19 pandemic through telephone calls and video chats

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 by connecting with the patient's social worker, the spiritual & religious care provider or the nursing team of the unit your loved one is staying on. 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.

Information for patients

» View information about hospital entryway restrictions, and get answers to general questions