In response to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic—and to protect our patients, staff and communities—we have made critical changes to our visitor policy.

Patients who require someone’s assistance to routinely manage their disability or care may have a visitor. This includes patients with intellectual or cognitive disability, communication barriers, sensory issues or behavioral concerns. Some examples include patients with autism spectrum disorder, genetic disorders, dementia, quadriplegia, visual impairment and Deaf patients.

Note: the examples above are meant to illustrate only some of the scenarios where a patient meets the exception criteria to be allowed to have a visitor. Contact Zary Amirhosseini and Karen Turner at if you have questions about visitors for a patient with a disability

Visitors may include a support person/caregiver who is a family member, personal care assistant, disability service provider, or similar proxy. These visitors are identified by the patient or the patient’s legal guardian or health care proxy. The support person/caregiver is a part of the healthcare team as they provide direct support or care that impacts the patient’s clinical outcomes. Examples may include:

  • Assistance with implementation of specialized support strategies to aid the patient to comply with clinical treatments (i.e. physical or emotional support strategies)

  • Assistance with facilitating communication between the patient and hospital staff, in which a virtual context would not be effective (i.e. can aid the patient with using an alternative and augmentative communication device or tool) 

  • Assistance with managing sensory aspects of the medical environment and medical interventions to improve a patient’s tolerance

Identification of the visitor and their role should occur upon arrival to the care setting or, ideally, prior to arriving at the hospital and documented in the medical record.

There are no additional restrictions on time spent with the patient in the patient’s room or requirements for physical distancing within the room.

All other aspects of the visitor policy apply to visitors to patients with a disability.