Masks again required at Wellington County hospitals

WELLINGTON COUNTY – Due to a recent rise in COVID-19 cases, masks will once again be required at all three hospitals in the county as of Sept. 25.

The change was announced on Sept. 22 by the Wellington Health Care Alliance, which operates Groves Memorial Community Hospital and North Wellington Health Care (NWHC) hospitals in Palmerston and Mount Forest.

Patients, visitors and staff must wear masks in the emergency department, inpatient units, ambulatory care areas and diagnostic imaging.

“The decision to reintroduce masks is due to increased community COVID transmission rates and recent regional hospital outbreaks,” stated Kate Kobbes, VP of patient services and chief nursing executive, with Groves and NWHC.

“Our focus is to protect our patients and staff. Clinical/patient-facing areas are at a greater risk for transmission.”

She added, “Symptomatic patients … will continue to be asked to wear a mask upon entry and while waiting for care.”

The change in policy comes three months after officials had decided masks were no longer required at the hospital.

Kobbes stressed “the best defence against the spread of infection” is washing hands often, ensuring vaccinations are up-to-date, and wearing a mask, especially in large group settings.

“Finally, please be kind to our health care workers, especially when they ask you to wear a mask,” stated Kobbes.

“They work around the clock to care for patients and want to ensure everyone is protected while in the hospital.”

Cases rising

Earlier this month, officials at Guelph General Hospital announced people must wear masks in clinical areas of the hospital. 

Many hospitals in the province have introduced similar requirements in recent weeks due the increase in COVID-19 cases.

Reported cases have risen from two to 100 over the last month (Aug. 16 to Sept. 20) in the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health (WDGPH) region.

A new WDGPH respiratory illness dashboard launched this week shows COVID patients have collectively spent 252 days in hospital this season, while flu patients have spent 22 days in hospital.