Required use of masks and face coverings

Patients and essential visitors coming to KHSC for an outpatient clinic/procedure appointment or visit must wear a mask or face covering. We are asking patients and visitors to bring their own masks/face covering. If this is not possible, then a mask will be provided at the screening station.

In addition, staff, physicians and learners working in patient care areas must now wear a mask at all times. Staff in non-clinical areas where physical distancing cannot be maintained for prolonged periods with other staff, patients or visitors will also wear a mask as needed. This does not mean that a staff member is sick or unhealthy if they are wearing a mask. Wearing a mask is one measure being taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

What is universal masking?

Universal masking means asking all people coming to Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) for appointments or to visit to wear a mask/face covering even if they do not have any signs of an infection.

Why I am being asked to wear a mask/face covering?

COVID-19 may be spread by people who do not have any symptoms. Asking healthy people to wear a mask/face covering can help to prevent this asymptomatic spread to other patients, visitors and our health care providers.

What if I don’t want to wear a mask/face covering?

KHSC strongly encourages all patients and visitors to wear a mask/face covering. If there is a reason why you are not able to wear one, such as a health condition that may make it hard for you to breathe, tell the entrance screening staff. They will discuss your situation and your options with you.

Will I get a mask when I arrive?

Our entrance screening staff will ask you to wash your hands and ask you if you have a mask/face covering to put on. Our preference is for patients to bring their own mask/face covering from home in order to conserve our stock of masks for health care workers. However, where this is not possible, you will be provided with a mask at the screening station. There will be information and posters showing you how to put on your mask. You will be required to wash your hands again after putting on your mask/face covering.

If you have a disposable (medical or industrial) mask, it must:

  • Be new and clean (not worn before)
  • Be worn properly according to the maker’s instructions
  • All attached ear loops, straps or ties should be used properly
  • Not have any tears, holes or vents
  • Not have exhale vents or valves. Although we know a vented mask may be more comfortable, it does not prevent your germs from spreading to others

 If you have a reusable cloth mask or face covering, it must:

  • Be freshly washed; you should be able to machine wash and dry your mask between each use without it changing shape or being damaged
  • Be comfortable and fit snugly against your face
  • Ideally be made of multiple layers of fabric
  • Allow you to breathe easily

Can I take my mask/face covering off once my appointment is over?

Please leave your mask/face covering on the entire time you are inside the building. Only remove it at the exit. If you need to take it off to eat or drink, or as part of your appointment, first wash your hands and then remove your mask/face covering carefully, without touching your face.

How do I safely remove my mask/face covering?

  • It is important that you remove your mask/face covering carefully to reduce your risk of infection
  • First: wash your hands using soap and water or hand sanitizer. Grab your mask/face covering by the ear loops and pull it away from your face. Do not touch your face or the outside of the mask
  • If you are removing a disposable mask, place it in a garbage bin. If you are removing a reusable mask/face covering, place it in a plastic bag to take home to wash
  • After you remove your mask/face covering, make sure to wash your hands again

What should I do if my mask/face covering gets wet or dirty?

If your mask/face covering gets wet or dirty during your appointment, let your care team know that you need a new mask.

Other Tips

  • We suggest you bring a plastic/paper bag or container to hold your reusable mask if case you need to remove it.
  • For all types of masks:
    • Leave your mask on at all times while inside, only remove it if you must eat or drink
    • Always use clean hands when putting on or taking off your mask
    • Your mask should always be covering both your nose and your mouth

How else can I prepare for screening at the entrance of the organization?

  • Arrive a few minutes early in case there are any delays or lines
  • Have your appointment letter ready to show the screening staff

Are patients admitted to the hospital (inpatients) also wearing masks?

At this time, only people coming during the day for an appointment or treatment (outpatients) and essential visitors are required to wear a mask. Inpatients may choose to wear a mask but are not required to unless they have COVID-19 or are suspected of having COVID-19.

Will my care team be wearing a mask?

Staff working in clinical care areas must wear a mask. Staff in non-clinical areas where physical distancing cannot be maintained must also wear a mask.

How can I learn more about masks?

If you have any questions about wearing a mask while on site, please ask our entrance screening staff or your health care team.