MUSKOKA — Starting today eligible patients at Muskoka’s two hospitals can now have two family or friends visit their bedside while they wear ‘visitor’ stickers to identify them.

Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare (MAHC) said in a release Monday, July 26, that it is “pleased to expand limited visitation for inpatients as pandemic-related restrictions loosen across Ontario.”

Inpatients can have two visitors each day during set visiting hours of 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., while adhering to strict visiting requirements.

Visits can commence after the inpatient has received a negative COVID-19 swab result, if it has been required on admission.

Visitors must also follow MAHC’s requirements to reduce risks associated with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

All visitors must:

  • Screen negative for COVID-19 at the hospital entrance
  • Provide a phone number for contact tracing, if it is necessary
  • Go directly to the inpatient’s room and refrain from travelling around other parts of the hospital
  • Wear their hospital-issued ‘visitor’ sticker at all times
  • Wear a hospital-issued mask for the entire visit except to eat or drink
  • Wear additional protective equipment, if necessary
  • Ensure the patient wears a mask while their visitors are present
  • Clean their hands often to reduce the risk of infection
  • Maintain two metres distance from others at all times
  • Maintain minimal occurrences of exit and re-entry to the hospital during a single day visit

Additionally, for everyone’s safety, outdoor visiting with a patient on hospital grounds must be approved in advance. Exceptions for visiting are considered for critically ill or palliative patients.

“We are cautiously expanding visitation to offer our inpatients a better hospital experience with in-person visiting with their loved ones while still maintaining their safety,” said president and CEO Natalie Bubela said in the release.

“Because open visitation has not resumed, we regret that visitors are currently not permitted for outpatients except for special circumstances where a support person is necessary.”

As the pandemic continues, should the community level of COVID-19 risk increase or MAHC’s personal protective equipment supplies become strained, visitor restrictions may be initiated once again.

South Muskoka and Huntsville Memorial hospitals are letting in two visitors to see inpatients only, but they must wear visitor stickers and masks issued by volunteers.