Visiting Guidelines Covid-19

Visiting Guidelines Covid-19

COVID-19 Update for Visitors

Last updated: April 1, 2021
Please note: Everyone who enters the hospital must participate in the mandatory screening process, wear a hospital-issued mask and sanitize their hands. This includes individuals (patients, staff and essential visitors) who have been vaccinated.

Effective Friday, April 2, St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital will move into the LOCKDOWN (grey) level of STEGH's Family Presence Guidelines (see below). Guidelines are in place to keep patients, families and our health care teams safe as transmission rates continue to climb in our community and province.

STEGH continues to monitor the COVID-19 situation locally and may be required to change/update the Family Presence Guidelines and/or visitation policy in response to local COVID-19 activity. 

We have aligned our visiting practices in accordance with Ontario's COVID-19 Response Framework.
STEGH is moving into the grey LOCKDOWN phase on Friday, April 2.
See the chart below for details (click to enlarge).

What does LOCKDOWN mean?
All general visiting is suspended. STEGH is allowing limited visitation to *essential caregivers only. Essential caregivers will be assessed based on discussion with the patient and their health care team. All visitors must follow health measures outlined in STEGH's Family Presence Guidelines (see below).

*Who is considered an Essential Caregiver?
An essential caregiver is an individual whose presence has been deemed necessary for the safety and well-being of a patient and/or a patient who would otherwise be at risk if the essential caregiver were not present (e.g. pediatric patients, patients in labour and delivery, palliative or actively dying patients, patients with cognitive or physical impairment).

Essential caregivers are expected to follow health measures outlined in STEGH’s Family Presence Guidelines:
• Scheduled visit
• Pass the screening process
• Wear a hospital-issued mask and additional Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as indicated by a member of the health care team
• Maintain physical distancing
• Restrict movement throughout the hospital

Outpatient Care Areas and Day Surgery
Patients who are physically frail, patients with dementia, patients who are non-verbal or disabled and require a support person are able to have ONE support person accompany them. Please coordinate with the health care team in advance.

Visiting the Emergency Department
Children are allowed one parent or guardian when attending the Emergency Department. Individuals who are physically frail, have dementia, are non-verbal or disabled and require a support person are able to have one support person accompany them.

Stay connected virtually
We recognize the impact of isolation for patients and families during this difficult time and we are doing everything we can to help patients and loved ones stay connected. If you have a family member at STEGH, please consider alternatives to in-person visits. The hospital supports the use of technology to connect with your loved ones through virtual options, like FaceTime, or telephone calls. Please speak to a member of your family member’s care team. You can also send a virtual greeting card to a patient in hospital.

Active Screening Upon Entry
Access into the hospital is limited to TWO entrances: East and SouthNote: Emergency remains open 24/7.
Screeners actively screen all patients, approved visitors, and staff upon entry at all entrances by asking questions about:

  • Symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing, sore throat, muscle aches, diarrhea, abdominal pain)
  • Travel history
  • Contact with a confirmed or probable COVID-19 patient
  • Contact with person with acute respiratory illness who has travelled in the past 14 days

What if someone fails the screening process?
Patients who fail the screen are provided with a mask and asked to sanitize their hands. The department is contacted for direction before the patient is permitted to enter.

Universal Masking is in effect at STEGH.

Click here for an overview of masking guidelines at STEGH.

What type of mask is allowed?
All patients and essential visitors will be provided with a hospital-approved mask upon entry to the hospital. Outside masks (including cloth masks) are not permitted. If you are wearing a mask from home, you will be provided a paper bag to store your mask until you leave.

When should I wear a mask?
Please leave your mask on the entire time you are inside the hospital. If you need to take it off to eat or drink, or as part of your medical appointment, first wash your hands and then remove your mask carefully, without touching your face (see below).

Is anyone exempt from wearing a mask?
Pediatric patients under the age of four (4) are not required to wear a mask.
People with legitimate medical conditions that prevent them from safely wearing a mask will be exempt (i.e. those with difficulty breathing, extreme anxiety or other related mental health conditions). Patients and visitors who are mask exempt will be provided with a face shield and a sticker indicating that they are "mask exempt".*General visitors who are not mask exempt, but refuse to wear a mask will be denied entry.  

Do inpatients have to wear masks?
Inpatients are not required to wear masks, except:
1) if they have COVID-19 or are suspected of having COVID-19
2) when they leave their room for any reason (including a test or appointment in another department)
3) when out of bed for any reason in a shared room