WELLINGTON COUNTY – While the province’s mask mandate for hospitals ends this weekend, local hospitals will still require face coverings for everyone entering the buildings.
“Masks are an important layer of protection that helps to limit getting and spreading COVID-19 in our hospitals,” stated Angela Stanley, president and CEO of Groves Memorial Community Hospital and North Wellington Health Care, which operates hospitals in Palmerston and Mount Forest.
“Many of our patients are elderly and immuno-compromised, meaning they are more susceptible to getting infections and viruses.
“Wearing a mask is a simple and extremely effective way of safeguarding our patients and staff.”
The announcement was made on June 8, three days prior to the expected end of Ontario’s last remaining mask mandate, which requires face coverings in high-risk indoor settings such as hospitals, long-term care homes, congregate living spaces and public transit.
The mandate was originally set to expire on April 27 but was extended by the province to June 11.
Late in the day on June 8, the province announced it was ending mask mandates in hospitals and on public transit on June 11, but keeping them in place in long-term care and retirement homes.
Dr. Kieran Moore, Chief Medical Officer of Health, also announced the province would be issuing guidance for health care workers and organizations, including when masks should be worn in hospitals and other health care settings.
“While masking requirements are expiring, organizations may implement their own policies,” Moore stated in a press release.
“Ontarians should continue to wear a mask if they feel it is right for them, are at high risk for severe illness, recovering from COVID-19, have symptoms of the virus or are a close contact of someone with COVID-19.”
No timeline for end to local mandate
There was no end-date supplied with the announced extension of the masking requirement in local hospitals.
“The science tells us how COVID is spread and that has not changed,” stated Marianne Walker, president and CEO of Guelph General Hospital and lead for Waterloo Wellington hospitals’ COVID-19 response.
“We care for the most vulnerable patients and masking is one way we can keep them safe.”
The Waterloo Wellington decision to extend mask requirements impacts:
- Groves Memorial Community Hospital in Centre Wellington;
- Palmerston and District Hospital;
- Louise Marshall Hospital in Mount Forest;
- Guelph General Hospital;
- Cambridge Memorial Hospital;
- Grand River Hospital in Kitchener; and
- St. Mary’s General Hospital in Kitchener.
“Maintaining safety measures at our hospitals helps protect patients and staff,” stated Walker.
“They also reduce the opportunity for outbreaks to occur in hospital settings which can affect our ability to provide and ramp up our services.”