Masks still required at local hospitals despite province lifting mandate later this month

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It'll be status quo at area hospitals despite the province lifting mask mandates in most indoor settings on March 21.

This from Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare CEO Bill Marra who says personal protective equipment is still required and COVID-19 screening will continue to take place until further notice. 

He says the hospital setting creates a lot of unique challenges.

"We are not in any hurry to make any changes within the same timelines that the province has rolled out for the simple reason that we are very much a very high risk environment still given that there are people that are hospitalized. Clearly if they're requiring medical attention, they have vulnerabilities."

Marra says the last thing any hospital wants is another COVID-19 outbreak.

"We're in really good shape right now. We just had our most recent COVID outbreak rescinded by the health unit. So what we're going to do throughout the month of March is observe and understand what impact the restriction changes will have on the community."

He says the situation will be re-evaluated at the end of the month.

"What we've agreed to do is at the end of March, look at the data, understand what's happening in the community and we're going to start revisiting policies with regards to visitation and slowly manage these changes because to make swift changes in a hospital environment could lead to some unintended consequences."

President and CEO of Windsor Regional Hospital David Musyj has released a statement saying the same — all current COVID-19 rules will remain in place for the time being.

Erie Shores Healthcare is yet to put out a statement on the masking change. 

Masking requirements will remain in place for public transit, long-term care and retirement homes and health care settings.

However, on April 27, the province plans to lift all remaining masking rules and public health measures if COVID-19 numbers continue to trend down.

— with files from AM800's Patty Handysides