Keeping Patients Safe
Please know that our hospital is safe for patients. Some of the changes you will see are measures to keep our patients and staff safe. Thank you for your patience, cooperation and diligence as we reintroduce services with these changes in place.
There are two entrances for patients and visitors at St. Mary’s, our Main Entrance and the Emergency Department. At each of these entrances you will meet screeners who will ask screening questions. If the screening criteria for COVID-19 is met you will be asked to clean your hand with hand sanitizer, be provided with a hospital-issued mask and proceed to your appointment.
Our staff and physicians arrive and are screened at a dedicated entrance in another part of the building, and are provided with masks. A separate exit lane has been created for staff exiting through the Main Lobby.
- Main Entrance: Monday to Friday from 6:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Saturday to Sunday from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
- The Emergency Department Entrance is open 24/7.
- Do you have a fever, new or worsening cough or difficulty breathing?
- Do you have a runny nose, sneezing or congestion?
- Do you have diarrhea or vomiting?
- Have you been advised by public health to self-isolate?
Our staff and physicians follow meticulous hand hygiene practices. As you have heard from Public Health officials, frequent and careful hand hygiene is one of the most important ways to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.
St. Mary’s is providing hospital-issued masks to all who enter the hospital. Masks from home will not be permitted. As always, we are following guidance and direction from the Ministry of Health to ensure all are protected.
Why are patients and care partners being asked to wear masks at St. Mary’s General Hospital?
Physical distancing, or staying more than two metres (six feet) apart from others is the most important strategy to prevent the spread of COVID-19 from person to person. Some people who have COVID-19 may not have symptoms but can still spread the virus without knowing. Because we cannot guarantee physical distancing at all times, we require all patients and care partners wear a mask upon entry so we can keep everyone safe.
How does wearing a mask help?
Masks can decrease the spread of COVID-19 in two ways. First, people wearing masks help protect others around them by limiting the spread of their own droplets when coughing, sneezing and speaking. Second, those wearing masks protect themselves by reducing the chance of inhaling contaminated droplets from others who are within two metres.
How can I be sure a mask fits properly?
It is important to put on, take off, and wear a mask properly to stay safe.
- Click here for easy instructions on how to put on a mask.
- Click here for a video on how to safely wear and remove your mask.
Follow this checklist to ensure a mask fits properly:
- Covers the mouth and nose once the elastics are secure around ears
- Has minimal gaps between the face and the mask while it is being worn – the mask should fit tightly but not feel uncomfortable
- Does not need to be repositioned or adjusted while being worn
- Is easy to remove safely
Note that a mask without a proper fit can compromise the safety of the person wearing the mask and those around them.
Are additional masks available if needed?
Masks will be handed out at screening stations upon entry to St. Mary’s. We will also provide patients and care partners with a new mask if it becomes very wet, soiled, damaged or dropped on the floor. Just ask your nurse if you need a new mask.
What should be done with the mask when taken off?
If you will need to put the mask on again, you may remove it safely and place it on a clean piece of paper towel. However, if the mask will no longer be needed, please dispose it in a waste container.
Use hand sanitizer frequently while at the hospital. And, always remember to clean your hands before putting on a mask and after taking it off.
Around the hospital we have taken many steps to encourage physical distancing of at least two metres/six feet between people. Seating in public areas is limited. You will see signage, fewer chairs and some chairs blocked with tape in waiting rooms. There are markers on the floor to encourage distancing in line-ups.
Staff and physicians are replacing in-person group meetings with virtual meetings using teleconferences and video conferencing when possible.
As we welcome care partners into the building, demand for elevators will rise. For safe use, the following guidelines are in place when using elevators:
- Masks must be worn at all times
- Maximum of six people in the elevator at a time
- Maximum of two people with a stretcher patient
- Spread out as much as possible
- If elevator is full, please wait for the next one or take the stairs
Our Environmental Services (EVS) department has implemented additional cleaning and disinfection procedures to ensure a clean and safe environment for our patients, staff and physicians. We have increased staffing as well so that enhanced cleaning could occur multiple times a day for all common areas and high-volume units.
Daily Enhanced Screening and Surveillance of Inpatients
In line with provincial guidance and direction St. Mary’s implemented daily screening and surveillance of our inpatients. The objective is early detection and early intervention of new or worsening symptoms. Given the emerging data that COVID-19 may be an ongoing issue until a vaccine is available, this screening is an important patient safety step in our overall goal to drive quality of care.
The new process includes actively screening each patient at the start of each shift and determining the need for testing/swabbing. Subsequent screening resulting in potential further testing will be discussed with the treatment team.
What Patients Need To Know
Resuming services will be done in a very gradual and phased approach over the coming weeks and months, working with our regional partners.
Services must resume in a manner that recognizes the pandemic is not over, and ensures there is space for any potential surge in COVID-19 patients.
All areas have worked out plans to slowly and gradually resume services that allow for greater physical distancing, appropriate personal protective equipment, and proper screening.
How Do You Decide Which Patients Will Be Seen First?
This is a gradual approach to reintroducing services that takes an ethical framework approach and considers multiple factors such as the patient’s condition, the disease, the procedures required and resources available.
How Do I Find Out About My Appointment?
- Please do not call the clinic or your physician about your appointment. They will call you if you have a scheduled appointment.
- If you are concerned, please call your family physician.
- If there is an emergency, please call 911 and go the hospital immediately.
- If you have an urgent issue, please go to an Urgent Care Centre.
Appointments May Be Virtual
Virtual and telephone care will continue through this next phase of resuming scheduled services.
- Where possible, we may book patient appointments virtually.
- This means you will be seen by your care provider by phone, or through a video virtual visit.
- Our care providers who do this are skilled, and you will be well cared for.
- This is another safe alternative to caring for patients.
Appointments Can Change
- We will do everything possible to keep your appointment once it is scheduled.
- It’s possible that appointments could change – the hospital needs to take care of emergency and urgent cases.
- COVID-19 is not over, and we will need to alter services if there is an increase in COVID-19 patients in our hospital.
What to Remember When Coming to the Hospital During COVID-19
- You will be screened for COVID-19.
- Arrive on time to your appointment, please do not come too early in order to avoid too many people in the same vicinity.
- At this time, St. Mary’s is not permitting patients and visitors to the hospital to wear their own masks. If you arrive with your own mask you will be kindly asked to remove it and given a mask at the screening location to wear during your appointment.
- Please remember to wear your mask throughout the hospital, sanitize your hands when you enter and leave the clinic and if you move about through the hospital. It is important to put on, take off, and wear a mask properly to stay safe. Click here for and instruction sheet.
- Good hand hygiene is critical and please take advantage of hand sanitizer stations as you move through the hospital. Click here for a video on how to wash your hands. Click here for a video on how to sanitize with hand rub.
- For your safety, please be sure to practice physical distancing of 2 metres/6 feet and pay attention to all markers, barriers and signage.
Patient Belongings Drop-Off
We understand the important role family and loved ones have in supporting our patients. In these times, it is necessary to protect the well-being of all patients by limiting traffic in and out of the hospital and practicing physical distancing.
Patients may want to receive personal items such as clothing, toiletries or other essential items for their care. We ONLY accept the following personal items due to infection control reasons for our patients and staff:
- Clean glasses, hearing aids, dentures and medical devices.
- NEW Toiletries only.
- NEW Grooming items only – toothbrushes, combs, hair brushes, razors.
- Personal items – books, magazines, puzzle books, family photos, etc.
- Electronics such as tablets and cell phones.
- Clean clothes for patient’s imminent discharge.
- *Medications if requested by the healthcare team.
- *Please speak with the healthcare team if there are any dietary concerns. Food/drink or medications drop-off must be coordinated in advance with the healthcare team otherwise these items will not be accepted.
Items can be dropped off at the main hospital entrance screening point between the following hours:
- Monday to Friday: 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
- Saturday and Sunday: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Please note: there may be a delay between time of drop off and the time the patient receives the items.
To drop off the item(s), please follow these steps:
- At the screening station, the visitor will inform the screeners that they would like to drop off items for the patient. Visitor will hand-sanitize and transfer the items into a clear plastic bag, available at the screening desk.
- The visitor will be responsible for placing the items in the bag, labelling the bag with the patient’s name and location, and signing this waiver.
- SMGH staff will make the necessary arrangements to have the belongings brought to the patient at the next available opportunity.
What Do I Need To Know Before Being Admitted?
The safety of our patients and staff is always our number one priority. If you have plans to be in hospital, or are admitted to hospital, during this time, there are a few things you can do to help keep yourself and staff safe from exposure to COVID-19.
Here are some tips:
- Please bring an up to date list of your medications, your pharmacy contact information and allergies to the hospital
- Share your medication list with a trusted emergency contact in case you are unable to provide a list during admission
- Please bring your phone and charger as hospital staff may want to communicate with you via phone whenever possible to collect/share medical information such as collecting medication lists and providing discharge counselling. This is to help minimize the amount of time staff are going in and out of your room to preserve our supply of personal protective equipment like masks, gloves, and gowns.