Bluewater Health Lifting Mandatory Masking & Social Distancing
Planning for a Future of Living with COVID-19
SARNIA & PETROLIA – April 4, 2023 – In order to offer our staff and visitors long-awaited relief in masking measures, while still following the science of transmission and to better align with protocols in the community, Bluewater Health has discontinued social distancing for all persons in hospital and modified mandatory masking effective immediately.
Hospital staff and visitors have been required to wear a mask in all areas of the hospital for the last three years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Up until now, frontline staff have had to wear a mask for the majority of their shift. Now, staff can have some relief from masking, however, will still maintain masking for all patient-facing interactions. Masking is optional for visitors in outpatient and public spaces. However, masking is strongly recommended for visitors while in a patient’s room.
The only exception to the masking modifications, is in high-risk settings like the emergency department waiting areas in Sarnia and Petrolia, and when units are in outbreak, where all staff, patients and visitors will be required to wear a mask.
“Much has changed over the last three years,” says Dr. Haddad, Chief of Staff, and ICU physician. “We have better community and staff immunity levels from a combination of vaccination and recovery from infections”.
COVID-19 is primarily spread through droplets or via respiratory aerosols in close contact or proximity with an infected person. Transmission can further be reduced by staying home when feeling unwell.
“We recognize that COVID-19 is here to stay,” says Dr. Haddad. “The incidence will fluctuate, but the experts indicate that there will be background infection risk for the long term. We have to plan to gradually and safely go back to normal, while we continue to focus on mitigating risk to vulnerable patients as we deal with this new respiratory virus for years to come. We need to move past the acute phase of the pandemic.”
Staff and visitors alike, can choose to wear a mask at any time. All persons who put on a mask should use a hospital-issued mask. Masks will be provided at all hospital entrances.
“We are so thankful for our staff and community’s continued commitment to reducing the spread of infection and keeping our colleagues, patients, and visitors safe over the last three years,” says Paula Reaume-Zimmer, President & CEO. “We hope these modifications will offer some long-awaited and much-deserved relief”.
ABOUT BLUEWATER HEALTH
Bluewater Health, with locations in Sarnia and Petrolia, cares for the approximately 131,000 residents of Sarnia-Lambton. With close to 2500 staff, Professional Staff and volunteers, Bluewater Health provides an array of specialized acute, complex continuing care, allied health and ambulatory care services. For more information about Bluewater Health, visit bluewaterhealth.ca or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.