AHS, Covenant Health, health-care unions mandate N95 mask use, other PPE for health-care workers

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A joint statement from Alberta Health Services, Covenant Health, and major health-care unions is setting out new minimum personal protective equipment standards as cases of the Omicron variant increase.

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The agreement signed by health-care authorities, the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, the Health Sciences Association of Alberta, and United Nurses of Alberta states all clinical and non-clinical health-care workers who enter a room or space, or are within two metres of a patient with suspected, presumed, or confirmed COVID-19, will wear a fit-tested N95 respirator, gown, gloves, and eye protection.

“In addition, all clinical and non-clinical health-care workers are now expected to wear N95 respirators in settings where frequent or unexpected exposure to aerosol-generated medical procedures is anticipated (for example, critical care units and emergency departments), where there is a high density of COVID-19 patients (such as COVID-19 units), or when there is evidence of unexplained transmission (such as COVID-19 outbreaks),” the statement reads.

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Emergency medical services personnel are also required to wear N95 respirators in all ground and air ambulances.

The statement says that requests for an N95 respirator will not be denied and access to one or an equivalent mask will be provided as soon as possible upon request.

The joint statement was updated to reflect the evolving evidence of COVID-19 transmission and to simplify PPE guidance for health-care workers, and includes guidance from the Public Health Agency of Canada and the World Health Organization.

“This update is intended to provide interim early guidance as the Omicron variant of COVID-19 begins to circulate in Canada and may need further revision as more is learned,” the statement reads.

The PPE supply will be assessed on an ongoing basis. In the event there is a shortage, or a shortage may occur, a contingency plan will be developed to ensure the safety of health-care workers.

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