Text size
Home / Patients & Visitors/ COVID-19 Information

COVID-19 Information

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.

Who should visit a clinical assessment centre?

Clinical assessment centres can test, assess, and provide treatment options for COVID-19. You should visit if you have COVID-19 symptoms and any of the following apply to you:

  • You are at higher of getting seriously ill from COVID-19 and need to get tested and assessed for COVID-19 treatment
  • You have been directed to visit a COVID-19 clinical assessment centre by your primary care provider
  • You feel that you cannot safely monitor your COVID-19 symptoms at home and need to be seen by a health care provider

You do not need to have a positive test result to visit. You should bring a list of your medications and a list of any important medical conditions.

If you develop severe symptoms requiring medical attention, such as shortness of breath, chest pain, loss of consciousness, or confusion, call 911 or go to the emergency department.

Where:

St. Mary’s General Hospital COVID-19 Clinical Assessment Centre
911 Queen’s Blvd., Kitchener, Ground Floor
8am-4pm seven days/week

Phone: 519-749-6578 ext. 7001
Fax: 519-749-6588

How:

Appointments must be made in advance. Please book an online appointment for St. Mary's COVID-19 Clinical Assessment Clinic for same day and next day booking. If there are no appointments available, then please call 519-749-6578 ext. 7001.

On Arrival:

Please arrive no more than 5 minutes before your scheduled appointment.  When you arrive, please remain in your vehicle and call the clinic at 519-749-6578 ext. 7001.  One of our staff will provide you directions and will arrange meet you in the main lobby of the hospital and bring you to the assessment center and begin your registration process.

Additional Clinics:

Cambridge Memorial Hospital COVID-19 Clinical Assessment Centre
215 Holiday Inn Dr., Cambridge

Search for a Clinical Assessment Centre in Ontario 

What are COVID-19 treatments?

COVID-19 treatments (including the Paxlovid pill) are available for people who have COVID-19 and are at higher risk of becoming seriously ill. These treatments are available for free by prescription for anyone who would benefit from them.

COVID-19 treatments can help people who are at higher risk of becoming seriously ill stay out of the hospital. They must be taken within the first five to seven days (depending on the treatment) after symptoms start.

 

Who is eligible for COVID-19 treatment?

To get treatment, you must test positive for COVID-19 (by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or rapid antigen test) and a health care provider must assess you to determine if treatment is right for you, which includes whether or not you are at higher risk of becoming seriously ill.

People meeting the following criteria should get tested and assessed for treatment:

  • over 18 and immunocompromised (have an immune system that is weakened by a health condition or medications)
  • over 70
  • over 60 with fewer than three vaccine doses
  • over 18 with fewer than three vaccine doses and at least one of the following risk conditions:
    • obesity
    • diabetes
    • heart disease, hypertension, congestive heart failure
    • chronic respiratory disease (including cystic fibrosis)
    • cerebral palsy o intellectual or developmental disabilities
    • sickle cell disease
    • moderate or severe kidney disease
    • moderate or severe liver disease
    • pregnant and unvaccinated (zero doses)

Use the Ontario government's COVID-19 antiviral treatment screener to help you decide if you should be tested and assessed for treatment.

Meeting the criteria above does not guarantee access to COVID-19 treatment. A health care provider at the clinical assessment centre will test you if needed and do an assessment to decide if you should get treatment.

 

What are antiviral medications such as Paxlovid and how do they work?

Antiviral medications are taken orally (as pills) reducing the risk of hospitalization or death in people at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19. Paxlovid is one of the potential medications that may be prescribed by a pharmacist, but your healthcare provider might prescribe a different antiviral treatment if you cannot take Paxlovid.

Know your risk and get assessed. Available treatments can help prevent serious illness if taken within 5 days of the start of symptoms. Learn more about Antiviral treatment (Paxlovid) for higher-risk individuals with COVID-19.

 

The University of Waterloo School of Pharmacy has resources to help you better understand COVID-19 treatment options:

 

Patients who may be at higher risk should contact a health care professional to be assessed as soon as possible. These patients should either:

 

Patients Booking An appointment at St. Mary's COVID-19 Assessment Centre:

You can book an appointment at St. Mary’s COVID-19 Clinical Assessment Centre where we can assess, test and provide treatment options for COVID-19.

Please bring a list of:

  • your medications, including prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements
  • any important medical conditions

Don’t delay or wait for your symptoms to become severe. Paxlovid must be taken within 5 days of the start of symptoms to be effective.

If you are experiencing severe symptoms, please call 911 or visit your nearest Emergency Department.

 

Forms & Resources for Primary Care Providers:

As we continue to see the number of cases decline in our community, St. Mary’s has closed our COVID-19 Testing Clinic on Bathurst Drive in Waterloo.

Anyone who is eligible and requires a PCR test can book an appointment online at Grand River Hospital’s Testing Clinic located at 15 Charles St. W., Kitchener (the old bus terminal).

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.

Entrance Hours:

  • 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.

Screening Questions:

  1. Do you have a fever, new or worsening cough or difficulty breathing?
  2. Do you have a runny nose, sneezing or congestion?
  3. Do you have diarrhea or vomiting?
  4. Have you been advised by public health to self-isolate?

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.

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.

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.

Elevator Safety

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

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.

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.

Click here for a video on how to wash your hands. Click here for a video on how to clean your hands with hand sanitizer.

What Patients Need To Know

Please note, all outpatient clinics are OPEN and appointments are being conducted. The Emergency Department is also open. Outpatient Clinics include but are not limited to Diagnostic Imaging (DI), Airway Clinic, all Cardiac Clinics. If there is a change to your appointment, you will be contacted. This means that if you do not hear from the DI Team, your appointment will continue as scheduled. Enhanced cleaning protocols along with physical distancing is in place to maintain safety for all.

  • Please do not call the clinic or your physician about your appointment. If there is a change to your appointment, you will be notified.
  • 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.

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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • You will be provided a mask to wear. If you wish to keep on the mask that you arrive in, you can do so, but must wear the mask given to you by our Screening Team on top of you your own mask.
  • 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.
  • Care Partners are required to be fully vaccinated and show proof of vaccination. As a higher-risk setting, proof of vaccination will still be required at St. Mary's beyond March 1st for all staff, physicians, volunteers and Care Partners. 

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. SMGH staff will make the necessary arrangements to have the belongings brought to the patient at the next available opportunity.

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.

You or your family member has been hospitalized with COVID-19. We know that this can be a concerning diagnosis and can sometimes result in a serious illness requiring intensive care.  When a loved one is sick, it can be a very stressful time for everyone. Our staff are doing everything that we can to provide high-quality, compassionate, dignified, and respectful care.

As a hospital, we rely on the best and most current evidence available to address COVID-19 and its many health impacts. Our medical professionals have years of educational and professional expertise and training and look to research and studies that are trusted, approved and uphold our strict standards of care.

We understand that there are many different opinions that although can appear credible, may not be scientifically proven. Please note that, as regulated health care workers that are licensed to practice by an external college, we cannot prescribe or administer “investigational” or otherwise unproven medications, such as ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine.

We are, as always, guided by the best and most recent peer reviewed evidence. The Ontario Science table has provided substantial guidance for health care workers and the public in this regard. You can find this updated information here: Ontario COVID-19 Drugs and Biologics Clinical Practice Guidelines Working Group. Clinical practice guideline summary: recommended drugs and biologics in adult patients with COVID-19. Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table. 2022; Version 9.0. https://doi.org/10.47326/ocsat.cpg.2022.9.0

We also want to take the opportunity to share the benefits of vaccination against COVID-19. Throughout the past two years, we have witnessed the fact that those with vaccinations have far fewer serious complications than those who choose not to be vaccinated. 

For the most part, COVID is a disease that people make a good recovery from, although the recovery can be slow. What is just as important as the medications is having a support team focused on recovery rather than taking valuable time to argue and debate. For this reason, we hope you respect our expertise and time and allow us to continue to focus on providing the best care we can.