Universal Masking Policy
Given the widespread community transmission of COVID-19, the University of Ottawa Health Services (UOHS) remains committed to providing high-quality, compassionate care while ensuring the safety of our workforce and our patients. For that reason, effective April 27, 2020, the University of Ottawa Health Services is requiring all patients, providers, staff and visitors, to wear a face covering or mask to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Masks can effectively reduce the release of respiratory droplets into the air when someone speaks, coughs or sneezes (including by people who have COVID-19 but no symptoms) but it’s important to remember that they are not to be relied on as the primary way to prevent COVID-19 transmission. Physical distancing, respiratory etiquette, hand hygiene and keeping one’s hands away from the face remains the best way to avoid contracting any viral or bacterial infection.
Reusable non-medical mask or face covering must:
- Be comfortable and fit snugly against your face and cover both nose and mouth.
- Have multiple layers of fabric.
- Allow you to breathe easily.
- Be washed and dried after each use.
- Not be worn by young children under the age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
Surgical/Procedure mask must:
- Be secured with ties or ear loops.
- Cover both nose and mouth.
- Be clean.
In accordance with this policy, UOHS requires that:
Patients and visitors…
- Maintain physical distancing (min. 6ft)
- Wear their own face covering or mask when accessing the clinic and keep it in place until they leave the facility.
- With a cough or cold, remove their cloth mask, cleanse their hands and wear a surgical/procedure mask.
Note: Visitors who present at the clinic without a face mask or covering will be denied access to the premises.
Reusable masks with filter and neck strap may be purchased at reception. For information regarding costs, go to the Fees page https://www.uottawa.ca/health/fees.
Staff and providers…
- Wear a surgical/procedure mask when providing direct patient care or involved in direct patient contact.
- Wear a reusable cloth mask, with the exception of when working alone in an enclosed office, at all times when accessing common work areas or they cannot maintain adequate physical distancing from co-workers.
- Use surgical/procedure masks in a judicious manner to help conserve supplies and ensure availability throughout this COVID-19 pandemic.
- Change and safely dispose (in a trash can with lid) of surgical/procedure mask whenever it is soiled, damaged or wet, or whenever the wearer feels it may have become contaminated.
- Follow infection prevention protocols including hand hygiene and the use of additional personal protective equipment when delivering patient care as per UOHS PPE Guidelines.
- When taking a break, eating or drinking, keep their mask from being contaminated by removing it and storing it safely e.g. in a cleanable container with a lid.
(Note: eating and drinking is prohibited when providing direct patient care or involved in direct patient contact)
In the event the supply of surgical masks prohibits this strategy, distribution of surgical/procedure masks will be prioritized based on the highest risk clinical activities. All efforts to conserve our mask supply are necessary to ensure masks are always available to all healthcare workers.
These practices will be continually monitored and re-evaluated.
- Public Health Agency of Canada: Council of Chief Medical Officers of Health Communication: Use of Non-Medical Masks (or Facial Coverings) by the Public
- Health Canada: Non-Medical masks and face coverings: About
- Public Health Ontario: Universal Mask Use in Health Care Settings and Retirement Homes
- The New England Journal of Medicine: Universal Masking in Hospitals in the Covid-19 Era
- UOHS PPE Guidelines COVID-19 (Apr 6, 2020)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How to Protect Yourself & Others
- Ontario Health: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) use during the COVD-19 Pandemic