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  • Writer's pictureLorna Hamilton

Continuous Masking No Longer Required In AHS Facilities As Of June 19

After almost three years since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Alberta Health Services (AHS) has officially rescinded the masking requirements in all AHS facilities, including Continuing Care and contracted sites. This decision comes in light of several key factors, including declining COVID-19 cases, decreasing positivity rates, wastewater data analysis, and lower hospital admission rates for respiratory illnesses across Alberta. The AHS also conducted consultations with stakeholders, including patients, families, advisory councils, clinicians, and frontline managers, to ensure a comprehensive approach to this policy change.

The lifting of masking requirements applies to all individuals accessing AHS facilities, including patients, families, and visitors. Additionally, it extends to organizations such as Alberta Precision Laboratories, Covenant Health, CapitalCare, and Carewest sites. This new policy also covers all AHS and contracted staff, encompassing physicians, midwives, students, volunteers, and contractors.

However, it is important to note that AHS will continue to respect and support individuals who choose to wear masks voluntarily. Patients are encouraged to engage in open conversations with their care providers regarding masking, hand hygiene, and any other factors they deem important to their care.

While masking is no longer mandated, AHS advises any visitors or designated family support persons who experience respiratory symptoms to refrain from visiting their loved ones until ten days have passed since the onset of symptoms. In cases where patients exhibit symptoms, both visitors and healthcare providers are recommended to wear masks.

AHS emphasizes that all staff members must continue to adhere to the Infection Prevention and Control Risk Assessment guidelines when making decisions regarding personal protective equipment (PPE). Moreover, the AHS Routine Practices, aimed at preventing the spread of infections, remain in effect. As a result, PPE will continue to be readily available in all settings for both patients and healthcare workers.

While the use of masks is no longer mandatory, AHS continues to encourage its staff to stay home when they are feeling unwell. Additionally, practicing high standards of hygiene is strongly encouraged as a means of protecting patients, families, and each other.

The Alberta Health Services has made the decision to rescind the continuous masking requirements in all AHS facilities, signaling a positive step forward in the ongoing battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. This change is based on careful consideration of various factors and consultations with stakeholders, ensuring a balanced approach to public health and safety. While the lifting of masking requirements is in effect, AHS remains committed to prioritizing the well-being of patients, families, and healthcare workers through continued adherence to infection prevention and control measures.

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