“It’s hospital policy”: masks are compulsory at Bluewater Health

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The lack of a mandatory mask policy in Lambton County has led to some confusion at local hospitals.The county, under the leadership of its council, has chosen to encourage the wearing of masks indoors rather than mandate it.

“Because we didn’t (make it mandatory), several people came to the hospital and refused to wear masks,” Julia Oosterman, communications manager for Bluewater Health, said on Sunday. “It’s hospital policy.”

The issue has polarized across the province, with regions making different decisions as they move through the third stage of the province’s reopening framework.

In any case, Bluewater Health, which has hospitals in Sarnia and Petrolia, forces all patients and visitors to wear masks due to the current global pandemic. This will continue to be the case although the organization has not had a COVID-19 patient for almost five weeks.

“It’s amazing,” Oosterman said. “But we didn’t get out of the woods.”

Hospitals continued to recover and offer elective procedures and surgeries after the Ontario-ordered spring shutdown. They now have a capacity of around 80%.

“This is where we are trying to stay right now within the guidelines and mandates of the province so that we can step up if we go into a flare or crisis situation like a sudden surge of COVID,” says -she.

But all operating rooms are in use.

“In fact, we’re trying to perform surgeries that are still over one hundred percent of our traditional pre-COVID,” Oosterman said. “Because running 100 percent just means we’re keeping up to date, but we actually have to catch up.”

But some patients are still reluctant to enter hospitals because of the pandemic, which Dr. Michel Haddad, chief of staff at Bluewater Health, recently discouraged. Oosterman said this continues to be a problem.

“And the reason it’s a problem (is) is not just today,” she says. “I think we are in a valley between two mountains, two points. And if people keep waiting, they could wait for the next peak. So their three-month delay became potentially six, nine, ten months. In some cases, this can be very harmful to their clinical results. ”

Another person tested positive for COVID-19 in Sarnia-Lambton this weekend, according to Lambton Public Health. It is the third positive test to surface in the region since Tuesday. Prior to Lambton’s public health announcement on Tuesday, no cases had been confirmed since July 3. There were 289 confirmed cases Sunday afternoon.

Testing at Sarnia-Lambton has now passed 15,000, with just 1.9% – a slight drop from the previous day’s report – coming back positive. A total of 260 people recovered from the virus and 25 died.

Most of Ontario moved into the third stage of the province’s reopening on Friday, but Lambton was one of 10 regions selected. Local officials expect an announcement could be made on their status early next week.

@ObserverTerry

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