Hospitals tighten visitor policies due to community spread amid Omicron wave

Hospitals tighten visitor policies due to community spread amid Omicron wave-Milenio Stadium-Ontario
Ontario hospitals are changing visitor policies to make them more restrictive as the Omicron COVID-19 variant spreads rapidly across the province. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

Several hospitals in Ontario are updating their visitor policies amid a surge in COVID-19 cases driven by the fast spreading Omicron variant.

As of Tuesday, Unity Health Toronto, a hospital network consisting of St. Joseph’s Health Centre, St. Michael’s Hospital and Providence Healthcare, says each inpatient who has a stay fewer than seven days will not be allowed a visitor.

An inpatient who is anticipated to have a hospital stay longer than seven days may identify two designated visitors, with one allowed to visit within a 24-hour period provided they show proof of vaccination and ID.

Unity Health Toronto notes inpatient visits will be a maximum length of three hours, while patients attending outpatient clinic appointments and day surgery or in the emergency department will generally not be allowed visitors.

The University Health Network, another Toronto hospital network, is announcing similar changes, with no visitors allowed for patients in hospital for less than seven days.

The Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto also updated its visitor policy, with inpatients allowed only one fully vaccinated designated visitor each day during regular visiting hours, with some exceptions.

Sunnybrook says only outpatients with “significant need” will be permitted one pre-approved companion.

In Dryden, Ont., the Dryden Regional Health Centre said each patient will only be permitted one designated essential visitor, who is identified by the patient and is “paramount to the fundamental care and/or mental health of the patient.” The health centre said all visitors must be fully vaccinated and provide proof of a negative antigen test taken within the last 48 hours.

Last week, Ontario introduced enhanced province-wide measures at long-term care and retirement homes in light of the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

The restrictions include preventing visitors who are not fully vaccinated from visiting loved ones inside the facilities, limiting indoor visits to a maximum of two people per resident at a time, and outdoor visits, where feasible, to a maximum total of four people per resident at a time.


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