Visiting the Intensive Care Unit

Key Points About Visiting the ICU

  • Visiting hours are flexible.
  • Mornings are busy times in the unit for patient care, diagnostic tests and rounds. There may be delays visiting your loved one.
  • Please avoid planning to visit between 6:30-7:30 a.m. and 6:30-7:30 p.m. as these are shift change periods for our bedside staff.
  • Each time you visit your loved one, please announce your visit using the wall phone or notify the volunteer when you arrive.
  • Handwashing is the single most important procedure in a hospital for preventing and controlling the spread of infection. Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer when entering and leaving the ICU.
  • You may be asked to wear a gown and gloves when visiting due to the medical issues of your loved one, please use these supplies as directed by the bedside staff.
  • To protect the health of our patients, please do not visit if you feel unwell, have a cold or other respiratory infection.
  • A 'password' will be required to obtain patient information from a health care provider. This password is not required to visit patients.


Mornings are busy times in the ICU. The bedside nurse is participating in team rounds, sharing detailed information about patients, performing thorough assessments, providing care, medicines and treatments at this time. 

Each time you visit, please notify the bedside nurse of your arrival who will organize your visit at the bedside. It is very important that you announce your arrival to ensure the dignity and privacy of all patients.

Visitors may be limited to two at a time. We ask that visits be limited to those who are closest to the patient. The number of times you may visit, the length of visit, and the time you wait before you can come to beside will vary due to the unpredictable nature of ICU patients. The unpredictable nature of this environment means things may not always go as planned. This can be frustrating, but we ask for your understanding. If you have concerns about your visiting routines, please speak to the bedside nurse or ask for the ICU charge nurse.

The first time you visit, a nurse will give you an information brochure and a card with the telephone extension to the patient's bedside. You may call this number directly when you want an update on the patient, or you wish to visit.

On that first visit, the bedside RN will also ask for identification and contact information for the substitute decision maker (SDM). This SDM will create a password to ensure only those individuals who have the password can obtain personal health information and/or medical updates about the patient. It is up to the SDM to determine who the patient would want information shared with, and then share the password with those individuals.  

This password is not meant to be used as a deterrent to visit patients. It is not required to visit a patient; however, it will be required at the bed side if information is requested.

To minimize the amount of time the bedside nurse or medical team spend on the phone, we expect one family member to be appointed as the 'family spokesperson' to share information with the rest of the family to avoid numerous phone calls to the bedside. If this process is challenging for your family, please talk with the bedside nurse to set up a different process.