Local health care settings to continue step-down approach to COVID-19

Kingston General Hospital, a KHSC site. Photo by Lucas Mulder/Kingstonist.

Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) and Providence Care have announced their intention to proceed with the next steps of their measured step-down approach to COVID-19.

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, both organizations introduced measures including masking, physical distancing and visitor restrictions. Over the last three years, these measures have been adjusted depending on local COVID-19 data and advice from local infectious disease experts, according to a joint release from the health care organizations issued on Friday, May 26, 2023. 

In April, both organizations elected to maintain masking in all patient/client care areas in the first phase of the step-down plan. However, they did allow staff to remove masks when they could maintain a physical distance of at least one metre in areas where there were no patients, clients, or visitors, according to the release. As community prevalence continues to decline in our region, the organizations are now considering moving ahead with the next phase of this step-down plan.

“Our plan has been guided by multiple sources, including our own analysis of national, provincial, and regional COVID-19 data, in addition to input from Public Health Ontario and other informed sources examining this same issue,” said Dr. Gerald Evans, Medical Director of Infection Prevention and Control at KHSC and Providence Care. “As community prevalence, outbreaks in health-care facilities and hospitalizations continue to decline and/or remain stable, and considering the high-vaccination rates in our region, there is now a substantially lower probability of transmission in health care settings.”

This next round of proposed changes includes removing physical distancing requirements and removing mandatory masking in most parts of the local hospitals and their community programs, the organizations stated. Providence Manor is excluded from the changes, as provincial directives are still in place for long-term care homes. Staff, patients, and visitors will be asked to continue masking at KHSC in specific areas, such as the Emergency Department, Urgent Care Centre, Children’s Outpatient Clinic, NICU, dialysis clinics, and the Cancer Centre.

While KHSC and Providence Care have already met with staff and patient advisors to develop this plan, they would like to hear more broadly from staff and members of the local community regarding the next phase of the step-down plan.

“We would like to hear from as many people as we can to learn if there is anything else we should consider when making these changes,” said Dr. Evans. “Our online feedback tool will be open until June 2, to collect your input on how we can best support this transition for patients, families, staff, and our community.”

To see the full list of four proposed changes and to provide comments, visit www.Kingstonhsc.ca or www.providencecare.ca

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