KHSC updates family presence policy to two registered visitors per patient

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

Thanks to encouraging trends in the region, Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) has updated its COVID-19 family presence policy to allow those admitted to hospital to have a total of two registered visitors, with only one family visitor in the hospital at a time.

According to a release from KHSC, the policy shift reflects the rapid uptake of COVID-19 vaccines and marked reduction in positive cases of the virus in the Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington (KFL&A) area.

Admitted patients are encouraged to choose family members who have been fully vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine (i.e. 2 doses plus 14 days) as their registered visitors. KHSC is also encouraging patients to choose registered visitors who can commit to supporting them for the duration of their hospital stays in order to reduce risk and make any required contact tracing easier, according to the release.

Patients on quarantine may not have in-person visits until their quarantine period is cleared. Virtual and telephone visits are encouraged at any time.

Because of physical space limitations in waiting areas and high patient-care volumes, KHSC said no changes are being made at this time to family presence in day surgery areas or outpatient areas, such as clinics, the emergency department (ED) and urgent care centre (UCC). In these areas, patients who are able to are asked to attend alone, according to the release. When it is safe to do so, one care partner will be permitted to accompany patients who are identified as particularly vulnerable (e.g., pediatric, severe dementia, imminently dying).

Overall safety will be monitored daily by clinical teams, and family members may be asked to limit their time within the UCC or ED, or be asked to leave and return at a later time to help reduce immediate crowding concerns, according to the release.

KHSC will continue to evaluate changes to its family presence policy in light of community vaccination rates, COVID-19 levels within and outside of the hospital, availability of staffing, and critical care capacity.

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