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. 

Essential Visits 

Essential visits include, but are not limited to:

  • Visits for compassionate care (e.g., end-of-life care and critical illness); 
  • Visits considered very important to patient/client care and well-being, such as helping with feeding or mobility; and, 
  • Registered volunteers that are deemed essential.

If your visit meets the criteria above, and when a loved one’s visit is longer than 24 hours, the visitor can come and go once per day. 

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

Essential Visitors Call Centre

Unsure whether your visit is considered essential? Call to speak with an Access Ambassador: Monday - Friday 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. toll-free 1.833.348.4787.

Staying connected to family can support health and healing. If you cannot visit your loved one in person, or if you want to visit with them more often, we suggest: talking on the phone (cell phone or tablets [e.g., iPad]) or using a video chat app (e.g., FaceTime, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger).

Other Visits to Island Health Facilities

In addition to essential visits, access to Island Health facilities is limited to:

  • People who require emergency care, plus 1 support person (for example, a child, a patient with mobility challenges, or someone who cannot self-advocate); 
  • Labour and delivery patients with 1 designated birth support person per patient;
  • One designated support person per in-patient, who requires specific on-going supports as deemed necessary by their care team; 
  • One person who drops 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. 

Who can I talk to if I have questions or concerns?

If you have questions about whether your visit is considered essential, you can phone and speak to an Access Ambassador: 1.833.348.4787.

If you are concerned about the quality of care being provided in an Island Health facility or program, please contact the Patient Care Quality Office.