This past week, several municipalities within the Greater Toronto Area took the important step of passing bylaws mandating the use of masks indoors. This will help stop COVID-19 from spreading and allow us to more safely re-open our economy and society.
North York General Hospital knows firsthand how face masks, together with physical distancing and hand hygiene, have been critical in stemming the spread of COVID-19. We were one of the first in the region to adopt a universal masking policy for all staff, visitors and outpatients at our hospital, long-term care home and ambulatory centres. Looking beyond our walls we have helped support long-term care, retirement, and congregate care homes in our community by providing them with masks and other essential PPE (gloves, gowns, etc.). For example, in one weekend in March we had teams of volunteers distribute over 10,000 masks to these facilities in an effort to keep staff and residents safe.
For some, mandatory masking has raised questions about personal rights. But as we have seen with laws on seatbelts, child car seats and smoking the strong health benefits for society must be weighed against this loss of individual freedom.
As our organization begins to increase services, masks continue to be a cornerstone to our infection control and prevention practices. We will continue to have a universal masking policy for the foreseeable future, and we encourage all who work, volunteer and learn at NYGH to wear masks in the community.
To help ensure our broader North York community had access to masks, our Foundation began selling cloth face masks at maskupnygh.ca and sold out in a little over a week! We are also providing every staff and physician a mask for their use outside of the hospital.
It is important that masks are worn properly to be effective. To provide some guidance we have created a short instructional video.
This is a pivotal time in our response to the pandemic. As society begins to reopen we must all come together to fight off a possible second wave. The bottom line is we have the potential to save lives by masking today. Masking will not only keep ourselves safe, but we keep each other safe.