Skip to main content

Staying in the hospital

Preparing for your hospital stay

You need to present two pieces of personal ID, one with a photograph. In addition to two pieces of personal ID, bring along any other health insurance ID card (e.g. extended health care) that you have. If your hospital admission is due to a work-related injury or illness, bring your WorkSafeBC claim number.

Primary ID

You need to bring one primary ID with your legal name and date of birth. This can be one of the following: 

  • BC drivers license

  • BC identification card

  • Canadian birth certificate

  • Canadian citizenship card

  • Permanent resident card

  • Canadian record of landing/Canadian immigration identification record*

  • Study, work visitor, or temporary resident permit (formerly Minister’s Permit)*

  • Identity card (Department of Foreign Affairs issued)*

  • Passport*

* These items are mandatory if you are not a Canadian citizen.

Secondary ID

You need to bring one secondary ID that shows your name, signature and/or photo. This can be one of the following:

  • BC Services Card or CareCard

  • Passport

  • School ID card (student card)

  • Bank card (only if patient’s name is printed on card)

  • Credit card (only if patient’s name is printed on card)

  • Foreign birth certificate (baptismal certificate not acceptable)

  • Canadian or U.S. drivers license

  • Naturalization certificate

  • Canadian Forces identification

  • Police identification

  • Foreign Affairs Canada or consular identification

  • Vehicle registration (only if patient’s name is shown)

  • Employee picture ID card

  • Firearms acquisition certificate

  • Social insurance card (new style without signature strip not acceptable)

  • Native status card

  • Parole certificate ID

  • Correctional service conditional release card

  • Two pieces of personal ID

  • Your health insurance ID card (e.g. extended health care)

  • If your hospital admission is due to a work-related injury or illness, bring your WorkSafeBC claim number.

  • List of your current medications, including non-prescription drugs and herbal products - Medications you receive in hospital may look different from what you take at home. If you have any questions about your medications, ask your health care provider or ask to speak with a pharmacist.

  • Your current prescription medicine in original labelled containers

  • Dentures

  • Glasses

  • Hearing aids

  • Toiletries, such as toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, hairbrush, razor

  • Pajamas/nightgown

  • Bathrobe

  • Slippers

  • Don't bring large sums of money or credit cards. Arrange to pay for things like a private room or equipment when you are discharged. For example, have someone bring your credit card or cheque book when they pick you up. Pay-by-phone is available at VCH's larger hospitals. If you rent a TV or phone, payment is due at connection time.

  • Don't bring valuables, such as electronics or jewelry (rings and watches that you normally wear should be left at home). VCH cannot be held responsible for any lost or stolen items. In emergency situations, VCH hospitals can store some small valuables for a short time. Ask the Admitting department or your nurse.

  • Don't bring or wear perfume, cologne or aftershave in a VCH facility. If you can, remind visitors before they come to see you to refrain from wearing these products or bringing flowers with strong scents. Some people are highly allergic to fragrance ingredients, and can suffer severe reactions.

Consider choosing a family member or close friend to be your main contact while you are in the hospital. This is helpful so nurses are not receiving multiple phone calls from your friends and family asking for an update. Once your main contact hears the update, they can relay the information to the rest of your friends and family. 

Let your designated contact know the hospital’s main switchboard telephone number or the phone number of your unit, if available. Nurses can tell your contact about your general condition, but they can't give details over the phone in order to protect your privacy. Depending on your unit or room, you may be able to take telephone calls.

For hospital contact information, find the hospital name at the bottom of our hospital care page

It may be helpful to write down your hospital location & health-care team for your own records. 

You can print the Location & Health Care Team form and fill it out when you are in the hospital. There are fields for: 

  • Your hospital location: unit, location, telephone number

  • Your health-care team which may include: patient services manager, patient care coordinator, care management leader, social worker, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, doctor(s), nurse(s), specialist(s), and more. 

During your hospital stay

There may be private (one-person), semi-private (two-person), and shared (three-person or more) rooms available. It is not possible to guarantee that your roommate will be of the same gender; however, your privacy is important and every bedroom has privacy curtains. 

You can ask about paying for a private or semi-private room to increase your privacy and comfort. In each Vancouver Coastal Health hospital there are a limited number of private or semi-private rooms. While there is no guarantee a private or semi-private room will be available, we try our best to accommodate these requests. 

  • Shared rooms (three-person or more): These rooms don’t cost anything for patients with B.C. Medical Services Plan coverage. 

  • Semi-private (two-person): You share the room and its bathroom with one other person. Semi-private rooms may be shared by men and women.

  • Private room (one-person): You are the only person in the room and you have your own bathroom. 

Good nutrition is an important part of your recovery. At most of our hospitals, you will get a menu to choose selections for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Ask your nurse or a family member if you need help selecting your meals.

If you have food allergies or follow a special diet, let your nurse know as soon as you arrive. A dietitian will talk to you about your food needs, and help design a meal plan for you.

Your family is welcome to bring in your favourite foods, but we do not have space to store large amounts of food.

As a patient, you can access different services to help you during your stay in the hospital such as: 

Learn more on the patient services page.

Washing your hands is the most important and effective way to prevent the spread of infection and to protect yourself and your loved ones. Clean your hands often and completely, especially: 

  • after using the washroom

  • before eating

  • when entering or exiting  your room

Two ways to clean your hands

  1. Wash at the sink using soap and water. Put soap on your hands and rub your hands for 20 seconds. Rinse with warm water.

  2. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer which is available throughout the hospital. Take one squirt and rub it over your hands for 15-20 seconds and allow to dry.

We encourage you to politely ask health care providers and visitors if they have cleaned their hands. 

Learn more

All Vancouver Coastal Health facilities are smoke-free inside and outside. If you are interested, stop smoking programs and products are available at several hospitals to help you quit smoking before and/or during your stay.

Do not wear perfume, cologne or aftershave while you are a patient in a VCH facility. If you can, remind visitors before they come to see you to refrain from wearing these products or bringing flowers with strong scents. Some people are highly allergic to fragrance ingredients, and can suffer severe reactions.

Many of us at Vancouver Coastal Health love pets and recognize the important role they play in our health and wellbeing. But not everyone shares our love of animals, some people suffer from allergies, and animals don’t always fit well in our hospital’s busy hallways.

Pets may be allowed to visit, but it depends on the unit and the hospital. Check with the manager of the unit before bringing in your pet for a visit.

Certified service animals, such as guide dogs, are always welcome. We also encourage visits from therapeutic animals as long as the visit has been prearranged with the unit staff.

There will be many people involved in your care. Everyone who works for Vancouver Coastal Health wears a name tag and will be able to answer your questions about what they do.


If you need to leave your unit or floor for any reason, please let your nurse know where you are going, and approximately how long you will be gone.


VCH sites regularly hold fire drills. If a fire alarm goes off during your stay, remain in your room. Staff are trained to provide instructions to patients in the event of a fire drill or emergency.


Leaving the hospital

Planning for your discharge from hospital starts well before you actually leave. We will work to have you discharged (sent home) as early in the day as possible. Some patients may need further health care such as home care nursing, care at another hospital, or rehabilitation services. Your health care team will work with you to help plan your discharge and any additional care that is required. Your doctor may write a prescription for medication and a nurse will give you instructions about any other medications you are to take at home.

Your discharge time will not be delayed if you haven’t arranged to have someone drive or accompany you home. With this in mind, plan ahead to have a pick up ready for your discharge day. If there is a problem getting a ride or getting home, you might need to stay in a local hotel for one or two nights. You cannot continue to stay in the hospital if we feel you are well enough to leave the hospital.


If you had a private room or used special supplies or procedures during your stay, please pay your account before you leave the hospital.

In addition to being covered by the B.C. Medical Services Plan, some patients have extended health insurance plans, which may cover the cost of supplies such as crutches, canes, splints and some casts. Please ask a member of your health care team if you have any questions.

For contact information, see "Patient Accounts" in the directory of your hospital-specific patient and family handbook.

If you receive an invoice or statement for the cost of your health care, visit our Make a payment webpage.

If you need a copy of all or part of your medical record after you leave the hospital, you may request this information under VCH’s release of information (ROI) policy. Records usually take 30 days to compile.

For more information, see our Request health records page.

Have feedback?

If you have a question, compliment or problem during your hospital stay, speak to your health-care team or to patient services manager for your unit. If you need more assistance, contact the Patient Care Quality Office.

SOURCE: Staying in the hospital ( )
Page printed:

Copyright © Vancouver Coastal Health. All Rights Reserved.