KHSC restricting visitors due to rising COVID cases

Kingston General Hospital main entrance off of Stuart Street. Photo by Lucas Mulder.

In response to rising COVID-19 cases and the presence of the Omicron variant in the community, Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) is making changes to their visiting policy for inpatients.

According to a release from KHSC, these changes have been made on the advice of the local Medical Officer of Health and KHSC’s COVID-19 Incident Command team and will go into effect tomorrow, Friday, December 17, 2021.

Similar to the guidelines implemented during previous COVID-19 waves, KHSC will be asking patients and family visitors to only connect via telephone or virtual visits until further notice as in-person visits are being temporarily paused, the hospital organization said.

“We recognize this is upsetting news for both patients and families, however, we are the only hospital between Ottawa and Toronto that provides certain types of highly specialized care and we must all work to keep our hospital and our community safe from COVID-19,” said Elizabeth Bardon, Vice President and COVID-19 Incident Commander.

In some cases, exceptions will be made by the clinical care team for compassionate reasons, according to the release. A registered family member may be able to visit inpatients in the following circumstances:

  • Patients having surgery may have one family visitor the day of surgery
  • Patients in labour may have a partner accompany them for the duration of labour and delivery
  • Children may have up to two registered parent/adult caregivers 
  • Babies in the NICU may have two parents registered to visit
  • Patients who are palliative or at the end of life
  • Patients in Critical Care/Intensive Care Unit
  • Patients from or awaiting long-term care homes
  • Patients in mental health units
  • A small number of patients who have specific clinical diagnoses or conditions (e.g. those with diagnosed dementia or significant disabilities). 

KHSC said that in all cases, patients and families should speak to members of their care team for guidance on whether an exception could be made and vaccination requirements.

“These measures are a temporary step which is necessary in light of the risk growing COVID-19 and will help protect our very sick patients as well as our staff who provide care,” said Bardon. “We will re-evaluate on a weekly basis so that we can resume in-person visits as soon as it is safe to do so. In the meantime, we strongly encourage patients and families to keep in close contact by telephone, personal device or our free ‘Staying Connected’ program where we can help an inpatient make a virtual call with a loved one over a hospital supplied iPad.”

KHSC also reminds outpatients that they should come to their appointments alone and have their loved one join the appointment by telephone. Individuals who are required to isolate due to a positive COVID-19 test or have been exposed to a person with COVID-19 should reschedule their clinic appointment.

KHSC is also asking people not to drop off items unless it is an item vital for care (ie. forgotten eyeglasses, hearing aids, etc.).

“As we are now under access restrictions, we really must work to reduce the number of people coming to the hospital,” KHSC said.

“However, our Auxiliary gift shop offers online orders for anyone that wants to send a care package or gift to an inpatient,” KHSC said. Details can be found on the hospital website.

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