Niagara Health is adhering to the highest standards of infection prevention and control in our work to provide high-quality, safe care to our community during the COVID-19 pandemic. We continually review our practices to reflect the advice and direction of our hospital experts as well as the latest guidance by experts at the regional, provincial and federal level.These Frequently Asked Questions and Answers are updated on a regular basis. Please check back often for the latest information.
Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19
What can I expect when I come to the hospital?
A number of precautions are in place at Niagara Health to reduce the potential spread of COVID-19 and maintain the hospital as a safe place for all.
Masks required for Emergency Department/Urgent Care patients, outpatients and visitors
All Emergency Department/Urgent Care patients, as well as all outpatients and approved visitors, are required to wear a mask at all times while in hospital, including common areas, elevators, waiting room areas and in patient rooms while visiting. Patients and visitors are asked to bring their own masks. Limited exceptions are made on a case-by-case basis for medical reasons.
Niagara Health will provide people masks if they do not have one. If someone brings a mask that is wet, damaged or soiled, they will be asked to discard it and will be provided a new one. We also encourage the community to remember the importance of meticulous hand hygiene when putting a mask on and taking it off, and to practice physical distancing to keep everyone safe.
Find out how to safely wear a mask here.
We are limiting the points of entry/exit at each of our sites. The main entrances to our Greater Niagara General, St. Catharines and Welland sites are open from 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Douglas Memorial Site from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Emergency Department and Urgent Care entrances are open 24/7.
Screening at the door
We are conducting screening of everyone at all entrances to our sites. Patients, family members, visitors and volunteers meeting the screening criteria for COVID-19 will be directed to a secondary area for further assessment. Signage is provided and staff will be on site to help with adjustments to these changes. Before entering the hospital, you will be asked if you have symptoms related to COVID-19, including fever or new cough or shortness of breath, as well as your travel history and the travel history of those who you’ve had contact with.
Niagara Health has moved to a no-visitors policy. In these times, it is necessary to protect the health and well-being of our patients by limiting traffic in and out of the hospital and practicing physical distancing.
Limited exceptions for visitors will be made on a case-by-case basis. Our care team will review each patient’s file, and where possible, an approved visitor may be added to the list. If we are able to grant an exception, the visitor will be screened at the door before entering and must be over 16 years of age. We understand how difficult this decision can be for our patients and families. To support the ability of patients to keep in contact with their loved ones, Niagara Health is providing all patients with free WiFi, telephone and television service. For further information about this policy, please click here.
Essential personal items for patients
Effective immediately, only essential personal items are to be dropped off for patients including:
We understand that families and friends may wish to send flowers to their loved ones while they are in the hospital, and we are pleased to support these deliveries where possible. In order to keep everyone safe we have implemented the following guidelines:
Essential personal items, including flowers, may be dropped off at the following locations and times:
Please note that food coming into the hospital from private homes will not be accepted.
What can I do to protect myself from getting COVID-19?
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Symptoms of COVID-19, which is the disease caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus, range from mild — like the flu and other common respiratory infections — to severe.
The most common symptoms include:
(Source: Ministry of Health)
I think I may have COVID-19. What should I do?
If you would like to be tested for the novel coronavirus, we ask that you call 905-378-4647 ext. 42819 (4-CV19) to make an appointment. Making an appointment is the quickest, most efficient way to arrange for testing. Our staff will provide you with an appointment time and instructions on how to access the centre.
For safety reasons, Assessment Centres have separate entrances from the hospital. Those wishing to be tested for the novel coronavirus are asked not to arrive at the main entrance or through the Emergency Department.
Niagara Health’s Assessment Centres are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Sunday.
Anyone requiring emergency care should call 9-1-1.
Can I go directly to the Assessment Centre?
Niagara’s two Assessment Centres, located in St. Catharines and Niagara Falls, are now accepting self-referrals from members of the public who would like to be tested for the COVID-19 virus. Referrals from healthcare professionals are no longer required.
Those experiencing symptoms, or who believe they may have been exposed to COVID, are encouraged to call 905-378-4647 ext. 42819 (4-CV19). Patients calling in will be given an appointment and instructions on how to access the centres.
Assessment Centres will accept walk-ins; however, those arriving for testing without an appointment will need to wait while registration and administrative procedures are completed over the phone. For safety reasons, Assessment Centres have separate entrances from the hospital. Those wishing to be tested for the novel coronavirus are asked not to arrive at the main entrance or through the Emergency Department.
Niagara Health’s Assessment Centres are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Sunday.
The St. Catharines Assessment Centre is located behind the Walker Family Cancer Centre at the rear of the St. Catharines Site at 1200 Fourth Ave. The centre also has a drive-through service. People eligible for this service will be notified when their appointment is booked.
The Niagara Falls Assessment Centre is located in the Allied Health building behind the Greater Niagara General Site located at 5673 North Street in Niagara Falls. There is no access to the Allied Health building from the hospital.
How long will it take to get my test results? How will I access them? What should I do while I am waiting for the results?
While Niagara Health conducts tests at its assessment centres, Niagara Region Public Health follows up with patients on their test results only if their results are positive for COVID-19.
The Ministry of Health has launched a new user-friendly online portal for the public to easily access their COVID-19 lab test results. It can take up to seven days to receive test results for COVID-19. While waiting for test results, continue to self-isolate. Visit the Niagara Region Public Health website for more information about COVID-19 test results.
I have an upcoming procedure at the hospital, will it go forward?
Hospitals across Ontario, including Niagara Health, have postponed certain surgical procedures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, both for safety reasons and to reduce occupancy. Emergency surgeries continue to be performed.
As decisions are made, we will contact patients directly to let them know of the status of their procedures. These are very difficult decisions and we regret this disruption. A member of the care team will follow up with patients as soon as we are able to reschedule their procedure.
If your procedure will continue, please refer to our tip sheet on how to self-isolate prior to surgery.
Are Mental Health and Addictions services available?
Niagara Health’s Mental Health and Addiction Program remains in operation and available to those needing assistance. COVID-19 has impacted people in varying ways and people may be feeling worried, anxious and overwhelmed. While you are staying at home practicing social distancing and self-isolation, stay in touch with each other and reach out if you need support.
For adults across Niagara Region:
For children, youth and families across Niagara Region:
If you would like to know more about mental health and addiction resources across the Niagara Region, visit our website .
If you or your loved one is experiencing a mental health and addiction emergency, we encourage you to go to the nearest Emergency Department. If you are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19 or are unable to get to the hospital safely (for example if you have taken an overdose), stay home and call 9-1-1.
How can I stay up to date with Niagara Health’s COVID-19 response?
There are a number of ways we are providing the community with information on Niagara Health’s COVID-19 response.
Niagara Health website
Our dedicated COVID-19 webpage includes the latest updates from Niagara Health, including details about our COVID-19 Assessment Centres and other important information. The page can be found here.
We also report daily on the patient activity and testing taking place at Niagara Health related to COVID-19. This page can be found here.
Niagara Health Navigator
The Niagara Health Navigator is an easy way for you to keep up with COVID-19 related updates from Niagara Health using your mobile device. If you haven’t installed the app, the Niagara Health Navigator can be downloaded free from the App Store or Google Play.
We also appreciate the media’s support in sharing important updates with the community and the important role they play in keeping you informed.
What happens if there is an outbreak of COVID-19 at the hospital?
The health, safety and well-being of everyone is our top priority.
In an outbreak, our Infection Prevention and Control experts take immediate action to protect our patients, staff and physicians. They work closely with Niagara Region Public Health and our Occupational Health and Safety team to closely monitor the situation and adjust our safety measures as needed.
How are you planning for an increase in patients?
We are closely monitoring the number of patients coming to the hospital and working diligently to manage patient flow. Our Emergency Operations Centre continues to meet daily to plan and take action to meet the rapidly changing demands of the pandemic.
The St. Catharines Site has been designated for our COVID-19 patients. We have created a COVID-19 unit with dedicated staff and we have beds ready to open in St. Catharines to receive a potential influx of patients. Additional steps would be taken to increase capacity in a safe and controlled manner, and as needed.
Information on any current outbreaks will be posted to our case reporting page.
How can I support the healthcare teams at Niagara Health?
We are grateful for the outpouring of love and support from our community members. You can support Niagara Health sites and our healthcare teams by:
1) Donating Personal Protective Equipment
There is a need for surgical/procedural masks, N95 respiratory masks, face shields and impermeable gowns/coverings. If you have items to donate, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to coordinate a drop-off time. Thank you for your support.
2) Making a donation
Your donation supports Niagara Health with essential equipment, such as beds, IV poles, crash carts and ventilators. You can make a donation at www.SupportNHF.com.
Please check back regularly for updates related to the hospital’s COVID-19 response.