With cases of COVID-19 on the rise, particularly the Omicron variant, Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) is reinstating greater visitor restrictions as of Wednesday, December 22. Visitors will also be required to provide proof of full COVID-19 vaccination.
Noted Kirsten Krull, vice president, quality and performance & chief nursing executive, “Making adjustments to our visiting protocols again at this time truly reflects the seriousness of this disease and its many impacts, and the importance of being able to continue to be able to serve the citizens who count on HHS.”
Accepted proof includes a paper version of vaccination receipt/notice, or a PDF copy on a mobile device with QR code. Government-issued ID with a photo is also required for identity verification. This applies to all visitors, caregivers and support persons; it also applies for caregivers/support persons accompanying patients scheduled for an ambulatory care clinic visit.
There are limited exemptions to this policy, including:
• Families of an end of life patient – as determined by the clinical team
• Essential caregiver if he/she is caring for a highly dependent family member who needs frequent support
• Compassionate reasons (e.g., life or limb threatening situations)
• Partner of a patient giving birth; excludes visits to antenatal appointments
• Essential caregiver/parents of children and infants in the NICU
• Visitors who have valid proof of medical exemption
Visitors will be denied entry to the hospital if they are unable to show proof of being fully vaccinated (including valid ID). As per Ontario guidance, fully vaccinated includes:
• Full series of COVID-19 vaccine authorized* by Health Canada, or any combination of such vaccines, or
• One or two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine not authorized by Health Canada, followed by one dose of COVID-19 mRNA vaccine authorized by Health Canada, or
• Three doses of a COVID-19 vaccine not authorized by Health Canada, AND
• Received the final dose of COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days before providing proof of being fully vaccinated
*Current authorized vaccines by Health Canada include Pfizer BioNtech, Moderna, AstraZeneca COVISHIELD, and Janssen/Johnson & Johnson.
There are also increased restrictions on the numbers of visitors:
In inpatient areas, up to two fully vaccinated caregivers/support people may be pre-identified for each inpatient, with only one caregiver/support person at the bedside at a time. Ideally these two caregivers/support people will be from the same household. Changes to the list of permitted visitors will not be possible. Additionally, children under the age of 12 will not be permitted.
In outpatient settings, including emergency departments, restrictions continue with exceptions considered for one caregiver/support person allowed for patients requiring cognitive, mobility or emotional support.