Yukon hospitals are relaxing a COVID-19 mandate with a recent announcement about masking across all hospitals in the territory.
A notice posted on the Yukon Hospitals social media accounts effective May 16, says visitors and patients can decide to wear a face mask or not. This includes in public areas of the hospitals such as elevators, hallways, family/meeting rooms and waiting areas.
Officials says they arrived at the decision based on evidence and infection control expertise as well as guidance from physician leaders, Yukon’s chief medical officer of health and the Yukon Communicable Disease Centre.
“You’ll also notice that many of our teams may or may not be wearing masks,” the notice reads.
“Hospital personnel will assess the risk and use appropriate personal protective equipment (including masks) as required before providing direct patient care.”
The notice says patients or visitors with respiratory symptoms will be asked to put on hospital-provided masks.
“Please continue to follow the direction of your health provider. Likewise, you can let your health provider know if you would feel more comfortable with masks,” the notice advises.
The advisory says the hospitals’ primary concern is the “health and safety of our people and the people we care for,” adding that there is currently low risk from respiratory illness in the territory.
Visitors are advised to always clean their hands with sanitizer when they visit the hospital or leave a patient’s room.
James Low, spokesperson for the Yukon Hospital Corp., said the change in the hospitals’ masking policy reflects the current environment in the Yukon with low risk from respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19.
“In essence, our hospitals are returning to pre-pandemic routines with one slight modification. Hospital personnel will return to putting on all the appropriate personal protective equipment (including a mask) in direct patient care situations, according to the risk,” he said.
What’s changed, Low said, is that some Yukoners have become more comfortable with masks.
“This means patients and visitors can choose whether to wear a mask in public areas, including waiting rooms, hallways and elevators,” he noted.
However, Low said visitors and patients may be asked to put on a hospital-provided mask, if they have respiratory symptoms.
“We have asked our team to take the lead of our patients. That’s to say, if a patient is wearing a mask, a health provider may consider wearing a mask even when it’s not medically necessary,” he said.
The policy may change in the future should the situation call for it, he said.
If evidence demonstrates increased risk and a need for continuous masking, the Yukon Hospital Corp. may adjust policy in order to maintain a safe environment for patients and health providers.
Contact Patrick Egwu at firstname.lastname@example.org