Corp Comm Connects

Southlake outpatients now allowed visitor support

Newmarket hospital patients can now have someone accompany them, though vaccination and mask rules remain in place
July 5, 2022

Southlake Regional Health Centre is now allowing support persons to accompany individuals coming for outpatient services after months of pandemic visitor restrictions.

The hospital announced the policy change July 4, which will now allow one support person per patient as an escort to an outpatient appointment or procedure. Previously, visitors were only allowed for inpatient, overnight stays.

“As we navigate the rapidly changing pandemic, we are always looking to ensure a safe environment for everyone at Southlake,” the hospital said in its updated policy. “We understand how important visitors are to patients and the role they play in their recovery.”

The hospital is still requiring all visitors and designated care providers to be fully COVID-19 vaccinated and to wear masks. Visitors can only attend between 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The hospital only recently started allowing two designated fully vaccinated visitors for inpatients as of June 2. Before that, visitors were only allowed for stays exceeding five days, with several exceptions, including end-of-life care.

Southlake said the change would put it “in alignment with our peer hospitals.” Mackenzie Health, which runs hospitals in Richmond Hill and Vaughan, has allowed an unlimited amount of visitors to all patients since June 16, though only two patients are permitted in a hospital room at a time. Mackenzie Health also lifted its visitor vaccination mandate June 16, though Southlake is still keeping it in place.

Visitors are also still required to self-screen for any COVID-19 symptoms, Southlake said.

“With these protective measures, visiting a loved one when they are in the hospital can be stressful,” Southlake said. “But we are committed to creating the best possible experience for families and caregivers while also maintaining safety.”

Like other hospitals throughout the province, Southlake has reported ongoing strain due to continued COVID-19 cases with staff shortages and burnout. York Region’s medical officer of health said it is an issue throughout the region.

“Southlake is facing staffing challenges and an increase in patient volumes as a result of the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the hospital said ahead of the Canada Day long weekend. “We are taking action to overcome these challenges in order to deliver the high-quality care you expect of us, while also working to support our dedicated staff and physicians during this tough time.”