Essential Care Partner and Visitor Presence Policy

Updated: October 20, 2021

We understand the importance and integral role families, loved ones and caregivers have in providing physical, social and emotional support to patients. North York General Hospital (NYGH) continues its gradual approach to safely enhance family/support person and caregiver presence. Our approach is consistent with Ontario’s Roadmap to Reopen and proof of COVID-19 vaccination program and the gradual approach being taken by other hospitals.


Essential Care Partner and Visitor Presence Policy (formerly Family Presence and Visitor Policy) - What is New?

NYGH is making the following change to the COVID-19 Essential Care Partner and Visitor Presence Policy (formerly called the Family Presence and Visitor Policy):

  • To ensure the safest possible environment for all our patients, vulnerable populations, community and team members, proof of full COVID-19 vaccination (14 days from the second dose of a two-dose series or from one dose of a single-dose series) will be required for anyone visiting or accompanying a patient at NYGH and its community sites. This will be in addition to showing a piece of government-issued photo identification, and passing screening and following public health requirements upon entry to the hospital.
  • The Seniors’ Health Centre is governed by its own policy according to provincial guidance and directives for Long-Term Care Homes.    
  • The policy will come into effect on November 15, 2021.
  • Note: this policy only applies to visitors and support people. NYGH will always provide care to anyone in need regardless of their vaccination status.  
  • We recognize that limiting visitor access for some patients may have a greater impact to their safety and well-being than others. Anyone visiting or accompanying a patient who is not fully vaccinated will be exempt from this policy if visiting or accompanying the following types of patients:
    • patients receiving end-of-life care with a prognosis of under two weeks
    • children or youth under 18 years of age
    • patients experiencing a new critical illness, new mental health crisis or receiving a life-altering diagnosis
    • patients in labour
    • patients with intellectual or developmental disabilities
    • patients who require support for outpatient appointments that their NYGH care team cannot provide
  • People visiting or accompanying these patients must first contact the patient’s care team before arriving on site to determine the safest way to proceed.
  • A very small number of essential care partners, designated caregivers and visitors may also have a medical exemption from COVID-19 vaccination.
  • Individuals who may have a medical exemption must contact the NYGH Patient Experience Office at 416-756-6125 or to complete an application to have the exemption approved.
  • People with exemptions approved by the NYGH Patient Experience Office must also consult with the patient’s care team to determine the safest way to proceed before arriving on site.
  • People under the age of 12 will be allowed to visit patients who are at the end of life. Please contact the patient's care team before arriving on site to arrange your visit.
  • NYGH will not accept proof of a negative PCR or rapid antigen COVID-19 test in place of proof of full COVID-19 vaccination.

Other changes NYGH made to the Essential Care Partner and Visitor Presence Policy (formerly Family Presence and Visitor Policy) as of Wednesday, July 21 remain in effect:

  • Visiting hours remain 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. for most patients admitted to the hospital.
  • Most patients admitted to the hospital will be allowed a visit by up to two family/support persons each day (these persons can vary each day). Both family/support persons may visit at the same time. All visits need to be pre-booked with the care team. Please contact the care team for more information. Both visitors for that day will have in and out privileges and there are no time restrictions on the length of the visit, provided it is within the hospital visiting hours. Outdoor visits are permitted in consultation with the care team.  COVID positive patients will have limited access to one designated visitor. Please contact the care team for more information.

Updates for Specific Departments:

Emergency Department – One support person may accompany a patient for the duration of the ED stay with in and out privileges. If required, the support person may change while the patient remains in the ED. For Paediatric patients in the ED, two support persons may accompany the patient. If admitted, the support person(s) may also accompany the admitted patient to ward. If outside of visiting hours, the visit is limited to 1 hour.

Labour and Delivery – Two designated support persons are permitted during childbirth (excludes triage).

Maternal and Newborn – One designated support person may accompany the patient to post-partum, with 24-hour access and in and out privileges. An additional designated support person may relieve the primary support person at any time during the stay. Only one support person for each patient on the unit at a time.

Paediatrics and Mental Health – For patients 18 and under, two designated support persons are allowed to visit at the same time.

The following aspects of NYGH’s Essential Care Partner and Visitor Presence Policy (formerly Family Presence and Visitor Policy) for inpatient areas remain the same.

Visitors must be over the age of 18, but exceptions may be made for end of life circumstances.

In addition, visitors who identify as any of the following may not visit:

  • Visitor is COVID positive
  • Visitor is awaiting results of COVID test
  • Visitor is a household member of a COVID positive patient
  • Visitor is under restriction from the Health Protection and Promotion Act
  • Visitor is under restriction by Quarantine Act (international travel)

­­­­­No visitors for patients on outbreak units or units under investigation for potential outbreak with the exception of a patient at imminent end-of-life.

*If you are not currently permitted to visit a patient at NYGH, please consider a virtual family visit – click here virtual family visit for information about how to arrange a visit with your loved one virtually

Preparing for Your Visit

Please view the instructional videos prior to your visit:

  1. What to expect the day of your visit
  2. How to put on and take off your mask properly
  3. How to put on and take off personal protective equipment if needed

What do I need to know about the day of the visit?

Please do not visit the hospital if you are feeling unwell, even if it is only the mildest symptoms.

Entering the hospital:

  • Enter only through the South lobby entrance. The only exception is for those going to see patients in the Emergency Department (ED) – you must enter through the ED.
  • When entering the organization, everyone is screened for COVID-19 symptoms. For faster and easier screening, patients can pre-screen up to 12 hours before their appointments. After completing the tool, patients can take a picture or print their form and show to our screeners at the entrance. Click here to access the pre-screening tool.
  • Please arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled time slot to allow for screening.
  • Upon arrival, you will be screened for COVID-19 related symptoms. People displaying any symptoms will not be able to visit and will need to reschedule.
  • Screening staff will provide a surgical mask to all patients, support persons and visitors when they enter the hospital or our other facilities. Personal cloth masks/face coverings will no longer be permitted on site.  

During your visit:

  • When you arrive on the unit, please sign in and follow staff instructions.
  • Strict infection prevention measures must be followed throughout your visit including frequent hand washing, wearing personal protective equipment if necessary, as directed by staff and maintaining physical distancing.
  • You must remain in the patient’s room for the entire scheduled visit. To reduce the risk of spreading the virus, going for walks is currently not permitted.
  • Food may be brought if individually packaged and may not be shared. All leftovers must be discarded and cannot be kept in unit fridges. All containers must be cleaned at home and unit pantry’s may not be used.

When your visit is over:

  • When your visit ends, please sign out on the unit.
  • Exit the hospital immediately by the West exit on the 1st floor.

Frequently Asked Questions: