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Visitors & Care Partners

Care Partners play an important role in a patient’s healing journey. St. Mary’s must balance the needs of our patients with the responsibility to do everything we can to keep our patients and staff safe. Learn more about visiting guidelines, masking and how Patient Relations can support you in connecting with someone in our care.

St. Mary’s believes in a philosophy of open visiting for family and Care Partners. Given our limited space in patient care areas, our clinical team will work together with the patient, family and Care Partners to determine when we need to reduce the number and duration of visits, and the number of people at the bedside at any one time, to ensure safe patient care. Below are some additional details about this guideline. 

Inpatient Units:

  • Care Partners and visitors will be allowed to visit their loved ones with an open policy for visiting.
  • Care Partners will be designated by the patient or the substitute decision-maker (SDM) for the patient.
  • There is no limit to the number of visitors, but we ask that only two Care Partners or visitors should be at the bedside at one time (due to space and safety issues).
  • To promote rest and wellbeing for patients, visitors as defined in this guideline are encouraged to limit visits to the period of 8am to 8pm seven days per week.
  • Some units have a quiet time and request limited visits during these rest periods. Care team members in these areas will work with patients, families/Care Partners and visitors to observe these quiet periods.
  • When overnight support is recommended for patients, the patient, family member and care team will establish expectations of quiet time and agreement with roommates.
  • Sanitize hands often, including when entering and exiting the hospital and a patient’s room.
  • Enter through the main entrance between 6am to 7pm Monday to Friday and 7am to 7:30pm on weekends. At other times, please enter through the Emergency Department.
  • No eating or drinking while visiting at the bedside, however, common lounge areas and the cafeteria will be available to take a break from the beside as needed.                                   
  • You may be asked to leave your loved one’s room during times of patient care or other periods due to space limitations.
  • Try to avoid visiting during mealtimes (Breakfast 7:45am-8:30am; Lunch 11:45am-12:30pm; Dinner 4:45pm-5:30pm) unless assisting a patient.                               

Ambulatory and Emergency Department

  • For outpatient appointments, one family member/Care Partner is encouraged to accompany patients. Additional persons may be asked to wait in a common area or “swap out” periodically due to limited space and seating in clinic areas, or when safety prevents them from remaining in the care area (e.g. during an x-ray).
  • Limit one Care Partner in the Emergency Department due to limited space and seating. Pediatric patients will be allowed two Care Partners at the bedside.
  • Use the public restroom on the patient’s floor only or the public restroom in outpatient areas.

Infection Prevention and Control

Outbreak units may restrict in-person Care Partners' and visitors’ presence–some exceptions do apply, please speak to your nurse or Resource Person. Care Partners will be notified as soon as possible of an outbreak and can share the visiting restriction with family and friends. 

Family members, Care Partners or general visitors must:

  • Not attend to any area of the hospital if they are showing symptoms of any communicable disease, including those associated with COVID-19.
  • Follow current hospital policy regarding mask-wearing.
  • Adhere to all additional isolation precautions and wear the required personal protective equipment (PPE) when necessary, and this will be provided by the clinical area.

Failure to comply with these guidelines may result in the Care Partner/visitor being asked to leave the hospital.

Virtual Visits

We have a Patient Experience Guide available seven days a week from 9am to 4pm to help inpatients connect virtually with their loved ones if needed. Contact 519-749-6578 ext. 1184 or email patientrelations@smgh.ca if you would like help connecting over Zoom or by phone with your loved one.

For questions about our guidelines, please ask a member of the care team or Patient Experience at 519-749-6578, ext. 6867 or patientrelations@smgh.ca.


Ambulatory Care - medical services performed on an outpatient basis, without admission to a hospital e.g. emergency department visits, outpatient clinic appointments, diagnostic testing.

Care Partners (CPs) - provide physical, psychological and emotional support, as deemed important by the patient and/or necessary by the patient and their care team. This care can include support in decision-making, care coordination and continuity of care. Care partners can include family members, close friends or other paid/unpaid caregivers identified by the patient or substitute decision-maker. Care partners provide direct care/support to the patient including but not limited to:

  • Assistance with meals (e.g. socialization during meals can support intake)
  • Assistance with mobility/supporting fall prevention
  • Assistance with personal care (washing/brushing teeth/hair)
  • Communication assistance for persons with hearing/visual/speech/cognitive/intellectual or memory impairments
  • Communication assistance for persons with specific ethnocultural needs
  • Assistance by designated representatives for persons with disabilities
  • Provision of emotional support
  • Supported decision-making & discharge planning

Family - a person (or persons) defined by the patient who may be immediate or extended family or close friend.

Outbreak - an increase in the number of cases of an infectious disease (e.g. Covid-19, MRSA) above what is normally expected for a group or place.  Additional restrictions on family presence may be added during a unit outbreak. 

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) - pieces of clothing or equipment (e.g. masks, gowns, gloves)

Visitor - a person (or persons) that interact socially with a patient but whom the patient does not identify as a family member or a Care Partner, and who does not have a role in their daily care needs. Visitors have more limited access and are asked to adhere to recommended visiting hours. 

Basement/Lower Level

  • Cafeteria
  • Subway (Open Monday to Friday 9am-6pm Saturday 10am-4pm)

First Floor

  • Diagnostic Imaging (X-Ray, CT Scan, Ultrasound, Nuclear Medicine and MRI)
  • ECG
  • Emergency
  • Eye Clinic
  • Geriatrics
  • Heart Function Clinic
  • Madeline’s- Gift Shop
  • Pacemaker Clinic
  • Patient Experience/Patient Relations
  • Pre-surgery Clinic
  • Robertson Clinic for Airway Health
  • Stress Lab
  • Security
  • Tim Horton’s (Monday to Friday 6am-9pm; Saturday and Sunday S/S 7am-7pm)

Second Floor

  • Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (CVICU)
  • Day Surgery
  • Intensive Care/Coronary Care Unit (MSICU/CCU)
  • Recovery Room
  • Local Cystoscopy
  • Minor Operative Procedures

Third Floor

  • 3 West Inpatient Cardiac and General Surgery Unit
  • 3 East Inpatient Cardiology Unit
  • Chapel/Spiritual Care Services

Fourth Floor

  • Endoscopy
  • 400 Medicine Inpatient Unit (Overflow Unit)

Fifth Floor

  • 500 Medicine Inpatient Unit

Sixth Floor

  • Chest Inpatient Unit

Seventh Floor

  • 700 Medicine Inpatient Unit

What is your role as a patient or care partner?

As a patient or care partner to the hospital, it is critical that you follow any and all infection prevention and control directions that are in place. This can range from isolation precautions to limitations on visiting. Decisions about infection control measures are not made lightly – they are directed by the IPAC team to ensure the safety of all and to control further spread to our vulnerable patients. Infection prevention and oontrol is everyone’s responsibility.

Please follow these steps to avoid getting and spreading infections in the hospital.

  • Do not visit someone in the hospital if you are sick.
  • Adhere to all required isolation precautions such as the wearing of gowns and gloves, as posted on the door to a patient’s room.
  • Clean your hands frequently with alcohol-based hand gel or warm soap and water (if visibly soiled). Clean your hands before you touch or eat food, after you use the bathroom, and when you leave your hospital room.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing and sneezing, then clean your hands. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow and clean your hands.
  • Remind your visitors and care providers to clean their hands.
  • Keep your immunizations up to date and get the influenza vaccine every year.

Information Sheets for patients and Care Partners

Infection Rates at SMGH

SMGH reports our annual hand hygiene rates, monthly C. difficile infection rates, and quarterly MRSA and VRE bloodstream infection rates to Health Quality Ontario. These rates are also available on our webpage. View our Publicly Reported Indicators - Patient Safety.

GRH and SMGH, along with our regional hospital partners in Ontario Health West, have continued to monitor this data closely in order to inform measures to keep people safe within our hospitals. In response to increased COVID-19 activity, GRH and SMGH will implement the following changes, effective Wednesday, September 27, in alignment with our system partners until further notice.

Team Members & Volunteers

  • Masking is required for team members and volunteers during all direct inpatient and outpatient encounters on entering a room AND when two metres of distancing cannot be maintained.
  • Masks are not required in non-clinical spaces (e.g., nursing stations, hallways, offices, meeting rooms) but continue to be available for anyone who prefers to wear one.

Patients & Visitors:

  • To support our team and for the safety of our patients, we strongly encourage visitors to wear a mask in clinical areas, especially while at the bedside.
  • While masks are not mandatory, we continue to make these readily available for anyone coming to SMGH or GRH.
  • We continue to support our patients in asking their care team to mask up if they prefer.
  • Visitors who are experiencing respiratory and gastrointestinal symptoms are reminded to stay home and connect with Patient Experience who can assist in facilitating virtual visits.

We can all do our part to stop the spread of illness, and masking is just one tool in our toolkit. Please get your flu vaccine, COVID boosters and always remember to wash your hands often.


For patients that are on a unit that is experiencing an outbreak, generally, in-person presence is not permitted. However, Clinical Care teams are empowered to make exceptions to expand or decrease in-person presence under special circumstances and for Essential Care Partners. Special circumstances include:

  • If the care team feels changes to in-person presence are required by the patient to make a marked improvement in the patient’s condition; or
  • Patients that are in their final days of life.

Essential Care Partners are those whose presence is required for the patient to communicate or for specific assistance. This may include care for patients that:

  • Are under the age of 18;
  • Require specific assistance due to a physical disability or condition of mental impairment (confused, disoriented or cognitively impaired); or
  • Are unable to communicate effectively with the care team, e.g., require a translator that the phone line translation service is not able to provide.

If you have questions, please contact Patient Experience at 519-749-6578, ext. 6867. 

Virtual Visits are one of the ways that you can connect with loved ones in our care if you are not able to visit in person. To set up a virtual visit, please contact our Patient Experience Guide Team directly at 519-744-3311 ext. 1184 or email patientrelations@smgh.ca.

For questions about our care partner policy, please contact Patient Experience at 519-749-6578, ext. 6867 or by email at patientrelations@smgh.ca.