Masks no longer mandatory at local hospitals

WELLINGTON COUNTY – Starting Friday, masks are no longer required at the three hospitals in Wellington County.

The Wellington Health Care Alliance (WHCA), which includes Groves Memorial Community Hospital and North Wellington Health Care hospitals in Palmerston and Mount Forest, announced the shift to a “mask-friendly policy” in a press release on June 9.

“Our staff, patients, families, caregivers, and volunteers are encouraged but not required to wear masks – except for when in oncology,” the release explains.

“Patients and care partners can request that anyone in their presence wear a mask.

“This choice will be honoured and respected without question.”

Masks were made mandatory at all three county hospitals early on during the pandemic as a way to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.

The province’s mask mandate for hospitals ended almost exactly one year ago, on June 11, 2022.

At that time WHCA announced masks would remain mandatory at the three Wellington County hospitals.

Masks may be required in certain situations

The June 9 WHCA announcement notes that despite the new policy, care partners and staff “may be required to wear a mask while interacting with a patient in isolation or where additional precautions are in use.

“In each case, a sign will be posted on their door to communicate this change.”

Other items mentioned in the announcement include:

  • patients arriving at an emergency department with a respiratory illness will be asked to wear a mask while waiting for care;
  • the hospitals may reintroduce universal masking based on disease activity, during respiratory season and for outbreak management;
  • masks will remain available at the hospitals for anyone that prefers to wear one, and their choice “will be respected and supported”; and
  • active outbreaks may cause hospitals to temporarily suspend visits to units impacted.