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Bluewater Health eases masking requirements for patients, staff

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Journal staff

After three years of mandatory masking due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bluewater Health is easing measures for patients and staff, effective immediately, the hospital announced Tuesday.

“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,” a news release stated, adding that staff 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, the hospital noted, is in high-risk settings like the emergency department waiting areas in both 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,” said 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, Bluewater Health added. Transmission can further be reduced by staying home when feeling unwell.

“We recognize that COVID-19 is here to stay,” Haddad said. “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,” said Paula Reaume-Zimmer, President & CEO.

“We hope these modifications will offer some long-awaited and much-deserved relief.”



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