All individuals visiting inpatients at Kingston General Hospital or Hotel Dieu Hospital will soon be required to show proof of full COVID-19 vaccination.
Kingston Health Science Centre (KHSC) said this new policy is part of their continued effort to protect patients, families and staff, and that the policy will go into effect on Oct. 22, 2021, which aligns with the roll-out of the provincial digital vaccine passport program. It also matches the deadline for all KHSC staff to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
“As the provider of specialized care for more than a half-million people in southeastern Ontario, we are taking this additional necessary step to protect the most vulnerable patients in the region, their families, and our staff from COVID-19,” said Elizabeth Bardon, Incident Commander for KHSC. “We must make every effort to ensure that we are able to continue to offer care in the face of any upcoming COVID-19 waves in Ontario.”
Registered family visitors will be asked to show proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 along with photo ID at either hospital’s entrance, similar to what is already required to access venues such as restaurants and theatres, according to a release from KHSC. This mirrors the approach being taken by other hospitals in Ontario.
“We anticipate that exemptions to this policy will be rare, but may be made in situations such as life-threatening emergencies where family presence without delay is absolutely vital for the patient, family and care team,” said Bardon. “Any exemption will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.”
To reduce the risks associated with crowding during the pandemic, KHSC currently limits the number of family visitors to two registered individuals (one-at-a-time) per-inpatient and has already been strongly encouraging patients to choose only registered family visitors who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the release.
“We recognize the important role of families in the lives of hospitalized patients. This is an additional way that families can help to keep our hospital safe for their loved ones. Further, we consulted with our patient experience advisors who support taking these further precautions to help keep people safe, and limit future COVID outbreaks within the hospital,” Bardon continued.
“We know that unvaccinated individuals played a significant role in a COVID outbreak at our KGH site this summer,” she stated. “The science is also clear: the COVID vaccine not only decreases an individual’s chances of spreading the virus, but also decreases the severity of COVID symptoms, risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19. This is an important step in ensuring that we keep our patients and families, as well as staff safe.”