In collaboration with the Middlesex-London Health Unit, London Health Sciences Centre has been closely monitoring influenza activity since October though metrics such as Emergency Department surveillance, lab reports and outbreak activity.
Beginning on Monday, Feb. 8, it will not be uncommon to see staff, physicians, visitors, and even inpatients at LHSC wearing procedure masks to help reduce the spread of influenza.
All non-vaccinated visitors, patients attending ambulatory clinics and inpatients leaving their room will be asked to wear a procedure mask. Proof of vaccination is not 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.
For those unvaccinated, procedure masks will need to be worn in clinical units, ambulatory care areas, and defined patient waiting areas. Masks will not be required in places such as hallways, elevators, cafeterias, or the Tim Horton's line-up.
Masks can serve as a way to further 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, or by contact with unwashed hands. Other infection prevention and control practices, such as proper hand hygiene, in conjunction with vaccination or masking are critical aspects of to preventing the spread of influenza.
When wearing a mask, there is no set time for when it should be changed, but a moist or soiled mask should be replaced.
This is part of LHSC’s commitment to reducing the spread of influenza.
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 masks in an appropriate waste receptacle