KHSC implements next phase of COVID-19 step-down plan


Effective on June 7th, 2023 Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) has implemented the next phase of its COVID-19 step-down plan. 

The Science Centre has detailed what has changed with this phase:

- Masks will no longer be mandatory in most areas at KHSC sites, and physical distancing will no longer be required. 
- Masks will continue to be mandatory in the Emergency Department, Children's Outpatient Clinic, and the Urgent Care Centre. 
- Masking is strongly advised for areas that provide care to patients at higher risk for more serious outcomes from COVID-19 infection.
- 24/7 visiting hours will return at the KGH site.

The Centre also lays out some things that have changed in this phase:

- Masks will still be required for patients with respiratory symptoms.
- Visitors and family caregivers with infectious symptoms must postpone their visit.
- Staff with infectious symptoms must refrain from coming to work. 
- Staff, caregivers and visitors will continue to have access to all personal protective equipment upon entry to patient care areas.
- A maximum of two visitors at a time at the bedside remains in effect.
- Masks and hand sanitizer will still be available at our main entrances and throughout our hospital sites.

KHSC says they will support all individuals in their decision to wear a mask if they choose. Staff will be expected to automatically don a mask when caring for patients who wear one. In turn, healthcare workers may also ask a patient to wear a mask as part of their risk assessment process.

"The decision to move ahead with this next phase of the COVID-19 step-down plan has been informed by ongoing analysis of provincial, and regional data," says Dr. Gerald Evans, Medical Director of Infection Prevention and Control. "This data shows very low levels of outbreak numbers, wastewater detection of SARS-CoV-2, and COVID-19 test positivity in Southeastern Ontario. Levels this low are unprecedented in our region, given there are no longer any community public health mandates in place." 

As a result, there is now a substantially reduced chance of transmission of COVID-19 within the community and healthcare settings. 

"High rates of hybrid immunity to COVID-19, through combined natural infection and immunization, has also greatly helped reduce the severity of symptoms for most individuals," says Dr. Evans. "In fact, last week we achieved a significant COVID-19 milestone. For the first time in several years, there were no active COVID-19 inpatient cases at the KGH or HDH sites for five consecutive days."

KHSC adds that its sites are held to a much higher standard for air quality measures and KHSC facilities have industrial air ventilation systems which use specialized air filters to remove particulates from the air.

With files by CFRA's Connor Ray