Chatham-Kent hospitals dropping some of their mask mandates

Beginning Monday, the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance (CKHA) will move forward with revised mask requirements for patients, staff and volunteers.

Masks will no longer be mandatory in non-clinical areas such as lobbies, waiting areas, cafeterias and elevators. However, in high-risk areas such as oncology, dialysis and emergency departments, visitors and patients must continue to wear masks.

In clinical areas, doctors and other staff must continue to wear masks when within two meters of any patient.

In some cases, there will be exceptions to this rule. For example, wearing a mask is not considered necessary if there is a physical barrier between the patient and the provider. A CKHA release also said masks may be required to be worn at all times if patients are “under additional precautions” or if there is an active outbreak on the ward.

CKHA officials continue to recommend that any visitor to their facility wear a mask when within two meters of a patient.

“The changes to our masking policy acknowledge that we will live with COVID-19 for years to come. Based on the latest provincial public health guidance, our updated mask guidelines will allow our staff, doctors, volunteers, patients and visitors to Breathe a sigh of relief,” said CKHA President and CEO Lori Marshall. “We will continue to focus on reducing risk to our most vulnerable patients and will continue to monitor the frequency of outbreaks, hospitalizations, intensive care admissions and community transmission of the virus.”

Any patients, visitors or staff who wish to continue to wear a mask will have the full support of the Health Alliance. Medical-grade masks will still be available at the entrances to the Chatham and Wallaceburg locations.

While the CKHA said the rate of transmission of COVID-19 was “at an all-time low,” the health alliance advised people showing symptoms of the infection to stay home, wear a surgical mask and practice proper hand hygiene.

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