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Visitor and caregiver information

Last updated: August 6, 2020

We know the support of family and loved ones is important for a patient's health. This support is essential for some patients. We are working hard to make sure our patients who require essential care partners are able to have a visitor with them at the hospital.

Effective August 8, 2020, Sunnybrook welcomes more pre-approved essential care partners to visit patients. A patient's care team must pre-approve essential care partners; this applies to both hospital in-patients and patients coming to their outpatient appointments who require support.

Because we must protect our most vulnerable patients, our permitted visitor policy for COVID-19 is still in effect, and only pre-approved essential care partners are able to visit patients in the hospital, and/or accompany patients to appointments. This is to promote the safety of our staff, patients and visitors during the pandemic, while also balancing the important role that essential care partners offer our patients.

This visitor policy is in effect for Sunnybrook's Bayview, Holland Centre and St. John's Rehab campuses. Visitor information for our Reactivation Care Centre (RCC) site can be found on the RCC's web pages.

Learn more about our visitor policy, essential care partners, and ways to stay connected to patients, 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.

About essential care partners

What is an essential care partner?

An essential care partner is one member of a patient’s support circle (family member, caregiver, friend, etc.) who will be able to visit a patient staying in the hospital, or accompany a patient to an outpatient appointment. Essential care partners work together with the care team to provide basic care needs, mental health and emotional support to the extent the patient wishes. An essential care partner is designated by the patient or substitution decision maker and must be approved by the patient's care team before visits can be scheduled.

In which circumstances is an essential care partner permitted?

We currently welcome essential care partner visitors in the following cases. Please note that if a patient’s condition changes or they move to a different unit, the visitation may change:

In-patients (patients being cared for in the hospital) Outpatients Other circumstances that might require an essential care partner
  • Patients at end of life
  • Patients in hospital with a critical illness
  • Patients receiving a life-altering diagnosis
  • Surgical patients requiring a hospital stay longer than 3 days
  • Patients with cognitive impairment, significant developmental or intellectual disability or inability to communicate
  • Acute care patients in hospital for 30+ days
  • Patients requiring transition of care support (e.g. complex discharge instructions)
  • Patients whose essential care partners are required to support care procedures and appointments (appointment, test, treatment)
  • Parents of adolescents (patients under 18)
  • Parents of babies in the NICU
  • Birthing partner of a person in labour
  • Patients whose essential care partners are required to support care procedures and appointments (appointment, test, treatment)
  • Patient or staff safety may be compromised without a support person present
  • Support is required for mobility or cognitive impairments (e.g. wandering/falls risk, sensory impairment or requiring assistance with use of the washroom)
  • Discussion of life-altering care decisions or goals of care will be taking place
  • Undue hardship to the patient or visitor/companion will occur in the absence of their presence
  • Patient is experiencing a mental health crisis
  • When a patient has an intellectual or developmental disability
  • When a patient has cognitive impairment
  • When a patient will experience difficulty communicating with the care team due to language, injury or illness (i.e., aphasia)
Please discuss these situations with the unit or clinic manager as we may be able to support their needs

Please note: An essential care partner must be approved by the patient's care team before visits can be scheduled. If a patient meets the criteria, please contact the patient's care team directly to be added to the hospital’s permitted visitors list. At this time, people under 16 may not visit the hospital. The chemotherapy unit is currently not accepting visitors.

Screening for symptoms: Essential care partners will be screened at the hospital entrance for symptoms. In order to protect our patients, visitors and staff, essential care partners must be symptom-free.

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

If your loved one meets the criteria for a patient who requires an essential care partner, please connect with your loved one’s care team directly to be added to the hospital’s permitted visitors list. An essential care partner must be approved by the patient's care team before visits can be scheduled.

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 care unit (for in-patients) or the patient’s doctor’s office (for outpatients).

Do I need to be approved by the care team as an essential care partner before visiting?

Your loved one’s care team will need to approve you as an essential care partner and add you to Sunnybrook’s permitted visitor list before you visit your loved one at the hospital.

If your loved one meets the criteria for a patient who requires an essential care partner, please connect with your loved one’s care team directly to be added to the hospital’s permitted visitors list.

If you have not been approved by your loved one’s care team as an essential care partner, it is likely that you will not be permitted into the hospital.

What do I need to know before I visit?

  • Visiting hours at the Bayview campus are 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. (with exceptions for patient’s at end of life)
  • 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 in the hospital?

Normal COVID-19 visiting hours at the Bayview campus are 11 a.m. - 7 p.m. Timing for visits and the number of times an essential care partner may visit 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 coordinate hospital visits with the patient’s team directly.

My request to be an essential care partner has been denied and I disagree with the decision. How do I appeal this?

In order to ensure the safety of our patients, staff and visitors, only those patients who meet the criteria for requiring an essential care partner will be permitted to visit. 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 believe that your loved one meets the hospital’s criteria for requiring an essential care partner and the request has been denied, please contact Sunnybrook’s Office of the Patient Experience.

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 permitted in the hospital yet?

We understand that our permitted visitor policy is 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?

Sunnybrook's Bayview, St. John's Rehab and Holland Centre campuses all follow the same essential care partner visitation guidelines. Please note, in our chemotherapy unit, no visitors are permitted, including essential care partners.

Visitor information for our Reactivation Care Centre (RCC) site can be found on the RCC's web page.

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

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.

Information for patients

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