Published On: April 25, 2023
As of April 25, St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital (STEGH) has made changes to masking requirements that were introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Patients and visitors are no longer required to wear a mask in public areas. This includes hallways, elevators, and the Atrium Café. Visitors do not need to wear a mask in patient rooms.
Although masking is no longer a requirement in public spaces, STEGH is a “mask friendly” environment. “If a patient or visitor chooses to continue to wear a mask while in hospital, their decision will be supported,” says Monica Olanski, Vice President Patient Services & Chief Information Officer. “We want everyone who enters the hospital to feel comfortable and safe.” Masks will be available at all entrances for those who choose to wear them.
Masks are still mandatory in some areas.
- Masks must be worn in outpatient areas (waiting rooms in Ambulatory Care and Diagnostic Imaging), as well as in the Emergency Department.
- Patients with a fever or respiratory symptoms are required to wear a mask.
- Health care workers will continue to wear a mask during direct patient care.
Visitors who feel unwell are asked to stay home and visit their loved ones in hospital when they are feeling better.
“We want to acknowledge and thank our physicians, staff and the community for their commitment over the past several years to reducing the spread of illness and keeping our hospital safe,” says Dr. Waleed Chehadi, Chief of Staff. “Allowing our teams the flexibility to remove their masks in non-clinical areas is a first step in moving past the acute phase of the pandemic and planning a gradual and safe return to normal.”
Why is STEGH easing masking restrictions?
- Public Health Ontario masking requirements for hospitals were recently updated and at this time Ontario is considered to be in a “non-high risk period.”
- On advice from regional and hospital COVID-19 infection prevention and control experts.
- Alignment with other hospitals in the region.
This is an interim change as hospitals transition out of a universal masking environment and as pandemic measures continue to wind down. Further details on continued next steps will be shared once available.
Like all COVID-19 policies and practices, the need for universal masking will be subject to ongoing evaluation in relation to the spread of COVID-19 and will be revisited if needed. All decisions will continue to be based on provincial guidance/direction and informed by subject matter experts.