Visiting Someone in Hospital

Visitor restrictions are now in place at all Island Health facilities/outpatient clinics

To support the Provincial Health Officer’s directions for physical distancing, and to protect Island Health patients, staff and visitors from the transmission of COVID-19, the B.C. Ministry of Health has made the difficult decision to allow only essential visits to all B.C. healthcare facilities. 

You can learn more about essential visits by reading our updated Essential Visitor Policy

Wearing a mask within our facilities

In accordance with Ministry of Health policy, masks must be worn by all persons visiting a health-care facility, including hospitals, health centres, physician’s offices and outpatient clinics. Island Health has also taken steps within our facilities to reduce the risk of transmission with physical barriers and signs to promote physical distancing. Please help prevent the spread of COVID-19 by wearing a face mask or covering when visiting an Island Health facility.

Long Term Care and Assisted Living Social Visiting Information

Information for families of those living in Long-Term Care and Assisted Living sites

We understand that visitor restrictions because of COVID-19 have been difficult for families and friends. 

Please read below for information about social visits at Long-Term Care and Assisted Living sites.

You can also refer to Island Health's Long-Term Care Social Visiting Policy and the BCCDC's Social Visiting Guidelines for Long-Term Care and Assisted Living Facilities resource to help you get ready for your visit. 

When will I be able to visit with my family member or friend who lives in a Long-Term Care home or seniors' Assisted Living site?

Each facility is different and unique. Contact the site that you wish to visit for their process on visits, including how often visits are scheduled, and how long visits will be.

What can I expect at a social visit? 

The first step is to contact the site where your friend or loved one is living and schedule a visit with staff. Residents are able to visit with one, consistent, designated family member or friend. 

  • As a visitor, you will complete a screening process before every visit. 
  • Visits will not be permitted if the visitor or resident is sick.
  • Designated visitors will wear a medical-grade mask that is provided by the facility. The mask has to be worn for the entire duration of the visit.

If outdoor visit space is available, and visits take place outside, visitors do not need to wear a mask if they can maintain 2 meters of physical distance for the entirety of their visit.

What safety measures are in place? 

All operators of each facility now have the following details in place to protect residents/clients and support designated visitors, and will engage with families to let them know of their specific processes:

  • A clear process to identify and approve designated visitors.
  • The identified/designated location(s) to safely accommodate visits (while considering size and layout of the site, and the safey of residents and staff). Visit spaces may include:
    • Appropriate outdoor space
    • Indoor designated area 
    • Private client/resident rooms 
What about essential visits? How will these change?

Facilities will continue to support visitors for essential visits. Long-term care facility leadership and the clinical team will determine if a visit is essential. Essential visits shall be limited to one visitor per patient/client within the facility at a time (except in the case of palliative/end-of-life care).

Read more about essential visitor policy. 

What if I have concerns about visitor policy decisions or feel that my care, or my loved one’s care, has been impacted?

If you have questions or concerns about care or care decisions that you or your loved one received, please first speak with the person who cared for you, that person’s manager or the facility operator. It is best to talk about your concerns at the time they happen. 

What if I am not comfortable talking to a staff member or unhappy about how my concerns were handled?  

If this situation occurs, you can talk to the Patient Care Quality Office.

They are available to help  bring forward care quality concerns and welcome your questions and feedback about care. 

What if I still have concerns after contacting the The Patient Care Quality Office?  

If you are not satisfied with the response to your concern, you may request a review from the Patient Care Quality Review Boards. The Review Boards provide an independent review process regarding care quality concerns originating in our health authorities.

The Review Boards can be reached toll-free at: 1-866-952-2448 or email:

For more information on the Review Boards, please visit:   

Other Visits to Island Health Facilities

In addition to essential visits, the following visitor restrictions apply:

  • Labour and delivery patients, can have two designated birth support people in labour rooms during labour;
  • In-patients can have one designated support person, who requires specific on-going supports as deemed necessary by their care team; 
  • People who require emergency care, plus one (1) support person (for example, a child, a patient with mobility challenges, or someone who cannot self-advocate); 
  • One person can drop-off laboratory samples. 

Tips for Visiting an Island Health Facility

Island Health is committed to keeping you, our patients, and our staff, safe. These tips will help you prepare for a successful visit to one of our facilities. For frequently asked questions and detailed safety information for before, during and after your visit, please review the FAQs below. 

  • Arrive early for pre-booked appointments or visits.
  • Look for signs posted indicating designated entrance points. 
  • Practice proper hand hygiene and maintain social distance.
  • Be prepared to participate in a mandatory screening process. 
  • Stay home if you are unwell.

Frequently Asked Questions and Detailed Visitor Information

What should I expect when I arrive at an Island Health facility?

Island Health entry points and hours for entrances to facilities have been limited. Try to arrive a little early for any pre-booked appointments or visits, and allow additional time to enter the facility.

  • There are signs posted at each facility indicating entrance points. For most sites, the Main Entrance is likely to be the best entrance point. 
  • Ambassadors are at each designated entrance point to screen all individuals entering the facility. When you arrive, you will be asked: 
    • A few screening questions.
    • To sanitize your hands. 
    • To remove any gloves and masks before entering. 
    • To following physical distancing rules.

Eligible essential visitors must pass important screening criteria. This means you cannot enter an Island Health facility if you have a cough, runny nose, fever, sore throat or shortness of breath, and you cannot have travelled outside of Canada in the last 14 days.
Patient escorts are not allowed in Island Health facilities unless the unit leader approves it as being important to patient/client care and well-being. The Ambassador will call the unit to make sure that the patient is ready to be picked up, and will make sure that the patient is brought to the entrance.    

How can I keep myself and others safe when visiting an Island Health facility?

Practice proper hand hygiene and maintain social distance:

  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer, located at each entrance, when you enter and when you leave an Island Health facility. 
  • Stay at least 2 metres (6 feet) away from other people when you are in an Island Health facility. 
  • Stay at least 2 metres (6 feet) from the person you are visiting. 
  • Visit only the person you came to visit; do not visit with other patients.
What safety measures should I be aware of when I visit?

Before Your Visit with Your Loved One

Talk to the primary nurse or unit clerk before going into the patient’s room.

During Your Visit with Your Loved One

  • Follow proper infection prevention precautions that the health care staff tells you to follow. 
  • Do not touch your face. 
  • Maintain physical distancing. 
  • Before you leave the patient’s room, wash your hands with soap and water. Make sure to wash all hand surfaces and wrists for 20 seconds. If you cannot wash your hands with soap and water, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

After Your Visit with Your Loved One 

  • Before you leave the Island Health facility, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer. 
  • As soon as you get home, to make sure you stay safe, we suggest that you; 
  • Wash the clothes that you wore to the healthcare facility. 
  • Shower and change into clean clothes. 
My loved one is palliative (receiving end-of-life care). Will I be able to visit?

Yes, your loved one is able to have a visitor. 

  • We ask that families with patients in palliative care designate a single visitor to support the patient. 
  • We encourage families to speak with their loved ones by phone or video chat.  
  • Visitors will only be allowed to visit once per day, but can stay inside the hospital for as long as needed (they cannot leave the hospital and come back in, in the same day).
How many support people are allowed to support a patient in labour/delivery/NICU?

We recognize that many expectant families have planned to include additional members in their delivery team such as doulas, spouses and additional family members. 

  • At this time, we are limiting support to 1 person per patient in labour and delivery as well as in the NICU. 
  • While a mother is admitted with baby, she is counted as a patient; however, if mom is discharged but baby needs to remain in hospital to receive treatment, only 1 designated caregiver will be allowed to visit the patient. 
  • A reminder that support visitors will not be allowed into the facility if they: 
    • Have symptoms of cold/flu or fever;
    • Have travelled outside of Canada in the last 14 days; or    
    • Have had contact with a confirmed case of Covid-19. 
I am receiving chemotherapy or another hospital-administered medication. Will I be able to enter a facility for treatment?

Chemotherapy patients and those who need other hospital-administered medications will continue to access services at Island Health sites. 

If there are any changes, you will be contacted by the most appropriate program to arrange for alternate service delivery.

Can I phone the hospital and speak to my loved one who is admitted?

We are experiencing challenges with the volume of calls to our units; we will accommodate phone calls as much as possible and we appreciate your patience. 

If your loved one has their own personal cell phone with them, that is probably the best way to reach them.

How will I know if my previously scheduled appointment has been cancelled?

Someone from the hospital or program will contact you to cancel or make other arrangements for your appointment. 

We are currently working to expand access to telehealth and virtual visits to help patients maintain access to services while they are at home.

I am worried that I have COVID-19; why can’t I come to the hospital?

We are working to make sure that only patients who experience severe symptoms, such as shortness of breath and/or difficulty breathing, receive hospital care. 

  • Most Covid-19 infections can be managed at home and will not require hospitalization. 
  • If you or a loved one is experiencing severe symptoms, please call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency department. 
  • By keeping people at home and under self-isolation, we are reserving our limited critical care resources for those who truly require life-saving medical care. We sincerely appreciate your cooperation.
Can I bring my loved one their personal belongings or food? 

We ask that you only bring essential items for your loved one (e.g., hearing aids, glasses, cell phone/charger) or items required for care.

  • Before you bring items to the facility, please call your loved one’s primary nurse or unit clerk to make sure the personal items are consider essential. 
  • Essential items will be accepted by the Ambassador, who is stationed at the entrance. They will arrange for the items to be delivered to your loved one. 
  • All non-essential items, such as flowers, gifts, blankets, food and other personal items are not permitted unless the unit leader approves them as essential to the care of the patient. 
What happens if I need to drop off and/or pick up someone who has a scheduled appointment?

When you get to the facility, please check-in with the Ambassador, who will help you.

At this time, escorts are not allowed in Island Health facilities unless the unit leader approves it as important to patient/client care and well-being.