With the number of respiratory illness cases on the rise, hospitals in Huron and Perth counties are bringing back mandatory masking in clinical areas.
A statement issued Wednesday by the Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance said the move comes in anticipation of the spread of influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and COVID-19.
As of Wednesday, September 20, masks will be required to be worn by staff, families/caregivers, and visitors in all clinical areas where patient care is provided. These areas include inpatient units, emergency departments, outpatient clinics, imaging, labs, and waiting rooms.
“Masks continue to be a key tool for infection prevention and control,” said Erica Jensen, the HPPA's Manager of Quality, Patient Safety and Infection Control. “Currently the rate of COVID-19 and test positivity rates are higher in our area than in others throughout the province. We are also seeing an increase in respiratory outbreaks, including our own recent COVID-19 outbreak, so the decision has been made to return to masking in clinical areas to help keep our patients and team members safe from hospital-acquired respiratory infections.”
In non-clinical areas, like hallways, elevators, cafeterias, meeting rooms, and administrative offices, masking will be recommended, but not required.
“Clinical areas that require masking will be clearly marked,” adds Jensen. “If you are not sure, wear a mask. If you feel sick or have symptoms of illness, you are strongly encouraged to wear a mask in all areas of our hospitals. If you are family member or caregiver who is feeling unwell, it is advised that you postpone your visit with your loved one until you are feeling better.”
The HPPA statement also said that universal masking in hospitals may be brought back, depending on spread of respiratory illnesses, as well as for outbreak management.