BRHS remains vigilant as mask rules change

A woman wears a surgical mask and cap. Only herblue eyes are visible.

The wearing of masks inside clinical areas at Bairnsdale Regional Health Service is now optional in most cases.

The move, announced to staff on Tuesday, comes as case numbers for coronavirus (COVID=19) and other respiratory illnesses has declined substantially in the community and among BRHS staff.

BRHS staff and visitors have been required to wear personal protective equipment, starting with a basic surgical mask, since early 2020.

Under the new mask protocol, in most cases the wearing of a surgical mask is no longer mandatory for BRHS workers and visitors.

This excludes staff who are treating patients with a respiratory illness, or visitors who have come to see patients with a respiratory illness, and for anyone working inside or visiting our Maddocks Gardens aged care facility.

Masks will still be available at mask stations placed at all BRHS entrances for anyone who wants to use one, or who must put on a mask to visit patients with respiratory illnesses. “The change is based on best health practice and does not mean that the threat of COVID-19, influenza or other respiratory illnesses no longer exists,” BRHS Chief Executive Officer Vicki Farthing said.

“We have taken this step with great consideration and caution following a detailed assessment of respiratory illnesses among our staff and East Gippsland residents in recent weeks.”

“While this situation may change again in the future and mask-wearing may once again become compulsory within our hospital, at this stage the use of masks in clinical areas has been relaxed.”

BRHS will watch the situation closely and may have to make masks compulsory once again inside the hospital if cases begin to rise.

 “We will remain vigilant. We are still providing masks at our entrances for those people who want to or need to use them. We are encouraging people to continue using hand sanitiser when they collect a mask from one of our mask stations and as they move about the hospital,” Vicki said.

“We are monitoring the case numbers for COVID-19 and other respiratory illness each day to ensure we stay on top of any upward trends, and we will advise our community if anything changes.”

Vicki said BRHS staff are pleased that masks are no longer required in most cases. “The period since COVID-19 cases began escalating in early 2020 has been especially tough for all health care workers. It’s a very positive move that gives our people – and members of our community – a little more comfort after a difficult time for all of us,” she said.

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