Visitor restrictions at WCH during COVID-19

The safety of patients, physicians and staff at WCH is paramount. Given the external environment and the emphasis on social distancing and reducing the number of people that come into the organization, it is critical that steps are taken to reduce and minimize opportunities for transmission. Further, it is essential that all people who are in the building maintain infection control practices and are able to be monitored for compliance.

WCH is restricting visitors with select exceptions during the COVID-situation. These restrictions may be updated as the provincial, regional and organizational COVID-19 situation evolves and are intended to supersede any WCH visiting policies that are currently in place.

Effective immediately, WCH will be restricting visitors with select exceptions at the hospital until further notice. The process, effective immediately, whereby excepted visitors can be identified and approved for visitation is outlined in detail in the WCH No Visitor Policy with Exceptions During the COVID-19 Situation.


1. Exceptions to the no visitor restrictions will apply to the following patients/situations:

  • One designated caregiver who is deemed essential to supporting a patient visit will be permitted on site to accompany a patient to an appointment.
  • Patients undergoing complex surgery
  • Patients under the age of 18 may be accompanied by one designated caregiver
  • Patients who lack capacity to consent to treatment and for whom other means of communication with their substitute decision maker have failed
  • Patients in crisis and complex mental health patients
  • Patients who require support to access critical ambulatory services
  • High acuity patients visiting the Acute Ambulatory Care Unit
  • Visitors providing essential, scheduled deliveries or services to the hospital. These visitors must be met at entrance screening desks where possible by their main contact to facilitate the required exchange and/or service.

    Note: Proactive determination by local teams of other exceptions with consult involving ethics and/or clinical adjudication screening staff experts as appropriate.

2. All visitors will be screened with exposure criteria and sign of symptoms of COVID-19.

3. Visitors cannot enter the hospital if they have any signs of acute respiratory illness or fever (i.e., sore throat, cough, runny nose, muscle or joint aches or pains) even when symptoms are mild.

4. Visitors will be required to strictly adhere to infection control standards and expectations including self-monitoring for symptoms, hand hygiene, and PPE where appropriate.

5. For patients with limited English proficiency, language lines and translation services must be made available.

6. Supporting Patients and Caregivers:

  • Where possible, clinical areas will communicate the visitor restrictions during COVID-19 to patients prior to their appointments during pre-appointment phone calls.
  • To facilitate communication between patients and support people who are unable to accompany them to their visits, the use of alternate methods of communication (e.g. Face Time, Skype) is encouraged.

7. Appeals:

  • If patients or visitors have concerns relating to the essential visitors restrictions they may speak to a clinical adjudicator at the hospital entrance screening site who will further consider and adjudicate their appeal. In urgent situations the manager or the clinical administrator on call may be contacted.
  • Patients may also contact Patient Relations at 416-323-7702 or with their concerns.

The approach to visitor restrictions is informed by evidence, and ethical principles and guidelines for decision-making. Adapted from Toronto Region-HOT COVID-19 Recommended Visitor Restrictions with Exceptions for Acute and CCC/Rehab Hospitals Version Date: March 20, 2020.

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