Frequently asked questions

COVID-19: Frequently Asked Questions

For patients and families

What are the symptoms of COVID-19 and when should I seek medical care?

Symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

If you have mild to moderate symptoms, stay home and call Telehealth or Toronto Public Health.

Please use the Ministry of Health COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool if you are unsure.

When should I to go to the nearest emergency department?

If your symptoms are severe or you believe you may be experiencing a medical emergency, dial 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency department.

Is Scarborough Health Network still open?

Yes, we are still open and are continuing to care for the Scarborough community.

Do I need to wear a mask when I come to any Scarborough Health Network hospital or clinic?

All staff, patients, and visitors are given masks upon entry to wear at all times while in the hospital.

Will my upcoming appointment or procedure go ahead as scheduled?

Currently, non-elective appointments will proceed as scheduled.

Regarding elective surgeries, the following changes will be made impacting SHN’s surgical program:

  • All non-urgent surgical cases will be postponed.
  • All non-urgent endoscopic procedures will be postponed.
  • All preadmission clinic visits will be cancelled and rescheduled.
  • All non-urgent Plastics Fracture clinic cases will be postponed.
  • Emergency surgery, cancer surgery, and urgent endoscopic procedures will not be impacted by this change.
  • Obstetrical care (including booked caesarean sections) will not be impacted and will proceed as usual.

Emergency departments will remain open at all three hospitals during these changes. These changes will in no way affect the delivery of emergency services, surgical or otherwise.

At SHN we are committed to caring for all of our surgical patients and will reschedule non-emergency procedures at a later date. ​​​​​​​

If your appointment is cancelled, you will be notified directly by the relevant clinic. For further questions regarding your appointment, please contact the respective clinic directly.

Will I receive safe, inclusive care if I have COVID-19?

In the midst of this worldwide pandemic, we encourage everyone at SHN and within our Scarborough community to be inclusive and compassionate during every interaction. It is our privilege to help you and we have strong screening protocols in place for patients and staff to ensure that our health network is safe for everyone.

For visitors and community

What is a pandemic?

A pandemic is a new virus/infectious disease that spreads across a large region or country and even worldwide, and affects a high proportion of individuals.

May I visit my family member or friend in the hospital if I feel sick or have recently travelled?

At SHN, we value the important role that families and visitors play in supporting patients through their journey of care. We are also committed to the safety of patients, families, and our health care teams.

Due to COVID-19 our policy has changed.

Visitors will only be welcomed in the following patient care areas:

  • Women in labour +1 Partner/Support Person
  • Paediatric/NICU patients +1 Parent/Support Person
  • Patients under the age of 16 +1 Parent/Guardian
  • Imminently dying patients +1 Partner/Support Person
  • Patients with severe cognitive or behavioural challenge +1 Attendant/Support Person

For more information, click here. Please check back often as further changes to our visiting policy remain a possibility.

May I visit the hospital if I am healthy and have not travelled anywhere?

At SHN, we value the important role that families and visitors play in supporting patients through their journey of care. We are also committed to the safety of patients, families, and our health care teams.

Due to COVID-19 our policy has changed.

Visitors will only be welcomed in the following patient care areas:

  • Women in labour +1 Partner/Support Person
  • Paediatric/NICU patients +1 Parent/Support Person
  • Patients under the age of 16 +1 Parent/Guardian
  • Imminently dying patients +1 Partner/Support Person
  • Patients with severe cognitive or behavioural challenge +1 Attendant/Support Person

For more information, click here. Please check back often as further changes to our visiting policy remain a possibility.

What is active public screening?

Active public screening means you will be asked specific questions about symptoms and travel history. You must pass screening to enter the hospital.

Anyone who does not pass active screening will be provided with the appropriate next steps, along with relevant resources.

What should I do if I have travelled recently?

If you develop symptoms and have travelled anywhere outside of Canada within the last 14 days or have been in contact with someone who has:

  • Stay at home and avoid contact with others; and
  • Follow up with Telehealth or Toronto Public Health, particularly if you develop fever, cough or difficulty breathing in the next 14 days. Tell them your symptoms and where you travelled, and let them know whether you have had direct contact with animals or a sick person, especially if they have had symptoms.

How can I protect myself?

Washing your hands using soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer for 15-30 seconds (or about the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday”) is very effective. Handwashing kills coronaviruses.

We also recommend avoiding people who are sick and coughing/sneezing into the inside of your elbow to reduce the spread of infectious germs.

How is SHN prepared to handle this virus?

We have been preparing for this scenario for many weeks. Some of the steps we’ve taken to ensure the strongest and safest response to COVID-19 at our health network include:

  • Establishing a project team of experts dedicated to supporting COVID-19 preparations and pandemic planning
  • Active screening for symptoms and travel associated with COVID-19 for all visitors who come through our doors
  • Wearing personal protective equipment when assessing patients who meet the criteria for possible COVID-19 infection
  • Implementing enhanced cleaning protocols
  • Adjusting our visitor policy to keep our patients, family, and health care teams safe
  • Creation of a COVID-19 Assessment Centre at our Birchmount hospital

Are Scarborough’s hospitals better prepared now than during the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak of 2003?

Yes. The entire field of infection prevention and control has completely changed since SARS, both locally and globally. We have a robust pandemic plan to guide us in responding to the possibility of community spread of a respiratory infection.

More questions?

For questions related to a specific unit or department, individual contact information for many of our programs is available by clicking on “Getting Care” near the top of the home page and selecting the relevant service.

For all other inquiries please contact Patient Relations.