KHSC and Providence Care seek comments on changes to Covid-19 practices

News / Patient Care
By G. Buffett

As we remove restrictions and to prepare for this transition, is there anything else we should consider as we take this next important change?

Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) and Providence Care are announcing their intention to proceed with the next steps of their measured step-down approach to COVID-19.

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, both hospital organizations introduced measures including masking, physical distancing and visitor restrictions. Over the last three years these measures have been adjusted depending on local COVID-19 data and advice from local infectious disease experts. 

In April, the hospitals elected to maintain masking in all patient/client care areas in the first phase of the step-down plan. However, they did allow staff to remove masks when they could maintain a physical distance of at least one metre in areas where there were no patients, clients, or visitors. As community prevalence continues to decline in our region, the hospital organizations are now considering moving ahead with the next phase of this step-down plan.

“Our plan has been guided by multiple sources including our own analysis of national, provincial, and regional COVID-19 data, in addition to input from Public Health Ontario and other informed sources examining this same issue,” says Dr. Gerald Evans, Medical Director, Infection Prevention and Control at KHSC and Providence Care. “As community prevalence, outbreaks in health-care facilities and hospitalizations continue to decline and/or remain stable and considering the high-vaccination rates in our region, there is now a substantially lower probability of transmission in health-care settings.”

The proposed changes include:

  • Removal of mandatory physical distancing.
  • Removing of mandatory masking for staff, caregivers, or visitors across our all of our hospital and community sites (outside of several key areas within our hospital sites- see bullet 3 below).
  • Asking staff, caregivers or visitors to continue masking in areas that serve high-risk or vulnerable populations including the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), Dialysis Clinics, Oncology, Emergency Department, Urgent Care Centre, Children’s Outpatient Clinic.
  • Patients and clients may request that their health-care provider don a mask for their interaction. 

What will not change:

  • Masks are required for patients entering our hospital sites with respiratory symptoms.
  • Caregivers or visitors with infectious symptoms must postpone their visit until their symptoms have improved.    
  • Staff with infectious symptoms must refrain from coming to work, contact Occupational Health, Safety & Wellness (OHSW), and follow the existing testing and return to work protocols as per OHSW guidance.
  • Staff, caregivers, and visitors will continue to have access to personal protective equipment where required.      
  • Masks will continue to be made available for everyone at all KHSC entrances for those who would elect to wear one. All individuals will be supported in their decision to wear a mask.
  • Providence Manor is excluded from any changes. 

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