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Today, my health system took a big step: Notified staff that they're adopting the model described here, with face masks at all times & a health check each shift for even mild ill symptoms. Effective Wednesday. Kudos to @PartnersNews @BrighamWomens @MassGeneralNews
Doing this is no small matter, given rising difficulty maintaining supply of surgical masks. To conserve, we've had to centralize distribution - 1 per employee per shift. If supplies run short, there will be prioritization of those with "highest risk clinical activities."
The main value of masking, like health checks, is actually protecting others more than ourselves. It reduces risk of staff with pre-symptomatic infection spreading it to others. That means we must cover the nose and mouth, and wash hands before and after manipulating the mask.
But it also protects staff from inadvertent nose/mouth-touching after contact with a person with unrecognized infection. (And we must still use physical distancing, cut elective visits to preserve supplies, avoid touching eyes, and disinfect hands and surfaces frequently.)
Will this be enough? There's promise. But critical to Singapore and Hong Kong's success was also aggressive community screening and testing for people with COVID-19 symptoms and tracing plus self-quarantine for close contacts. We are still behind on those fronts.
Details of the new health system policy here.
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