St. Mary's Hospital plans to extend visiting hours

Thanks to a push from patients and staff, St. Mary's General Hospital in Kitchener says it hopes to expand visiting hours to include the morning and early afternoon.
St. Mary's General Hospital says it plans to relax its visiting hours so that friends and family members have better access to their loved ones while in hospital. (ChameleonsEye/Shutterstock)

Thanks to a push from patients and staff, St. Mary's General Hospital in Kitchener says it hopes to expand visiting hours to include the morning and early afternoon.

It's an idea the hospital has been toying with since the spring, said Terry Boshart, interim chief nursing executive at St. Mary's Hospital.

"Currently our visiting hours start at 1:30 p.m. until 8:30 at night, so what we're looking at is perhaps opening up the morning," said Boshart.

Their experience in the hospital is just so much better.- Leslee Thompson, Kingston General Hospital president and CEO

"We went out and actually talked to our patients, heard stories from our patients, stories from our staff and they're saying it's something we need to do, particularly in the morning time. People that work shift[s], it's sometimes difficult to get in in the evening. "

Boshart said it would also allow family members to talk to doctors and nurse practitioners as they do their rounds, which typically happens before noon.

Push for visiting hours to be 24/7

The plan comes at the same time as a campaign by the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement to get hospitals across the country to eliminate visiting hours, allowing friends and family members to visit patients any hour of the day, any time of the week.

Kingston General Hospital made the move in 2010 and it has worked, said president and CEO Leslee Thompson.

"This has led to improved outcomes, being able to cope with and support shorter lengths of stay. They're more prepared for the transition home and generally say their experience in the hospital is just so much better," she said.

About 20 hospitals across Canada have since followed suit.

St. Mary's General Hospital said it isn't ready to announce when its extended hours will start, and Grand River Hospital said it isn't planning any changes to its visiting hours at the moment but is open to the possibility.