Influenza is widely circulating in the community

December 12, 2013

Non-vaccinated visitors will be asked to wear a mask in patient care areas at LHSC

Today, Dec. 12, at 2 pm non-vaccinated visitors, patients attending ambulatory clinics and inpatients leaving their room will be asked to wear a procedure mask when entering clinical units, ambulatory care areas, and defined patient waiting areas in LHSC.

Visitors will be asked if they have received their influenza immunization and non-vaccinated visitors will be asked to wear a procedure mask during their visit. Visitors will not be required to wear masks in places such as hallways, elevators, cafeterias, or the Tim Horton's line-up.

These questions should help visitors understand the new mask policy at LHSC.

What are my requirements as a visitor during influenza season?

If you are sick or feeling unwell with symptoms of a respiratory illness and your appointment /visit can be put off, you should not come to the hospital. If you have not received your influenza vaccination, you will be required to wear a mask in clinical units, ambulatory care areas, and defined patient waiting areas.

Do I have to provide proof of vaccination?

No, staff will not ask for proof of vaccination.

Why do I have to wear a mask if I’m not vaccinated?

Masks can serve as a way to reduce the spread of influenza by catching the droplets we put into the air when we talk, sneeze and cough. Influenza is easily passed from person to person through these droplets in the air. This can happen anywhere.

Even if you do not feel sick and have no influenza�]like illness symptoms you could be carrying the virus and be infectious. Wearing a mask may protect any unvaccinated patients or residents you come into contact with. This measure has also been used in other provinces and countries in health care facilities to reduce the spread of influenza-like illnesses among their patients.

What type of mask should I wear?

The required masks will be available in all patient care areas at University Hospital and Victoria Hospital and satellite clinics such as the Kidney Care Centre at Westmount Shopping Centre.

When should I change my mask?

 There is no set time for when a mask should be changed. Here are a few guidelines for proper use of masks:

  • Change your mask when it becomes moist
  • Change your mask when it is soiled
  • Do not leave masks dangling around your neck
  • Upon touching or discarding a used mask, wash your hands or use alcohol hand sanitizer
  • Dispose of used mask in an appropriate waste receptacle