Wearing masks in healthcare sites
Reviewed and updated 15 July 2021
Do I have to wear a mask?
Under the new Public Activities Direction, which came into effect at midnight 15 Junly 2021 everyone (including patients, patients’ family members, students, healthcare staff, administrative staff, contractors and cleaning staff) are required to wear a mask when on healthcare sites.
Wearing a face mask protects yourself, patients and the community by providing an additional physical barrier to coronavirus (COVID-19).
When you enter any CALHN facilities you are required to wear a face mask.
Who needs to wear a mask?
From 12.01am 16 July 2021, all people in health care settings must wear a mask (covering mouth and nose) at all times when in the physical presence of other people on the premises. This includes:
- care providers
- administrative and other staff
- contractors; and
- any other person present on site.
A health care service includes public hospitals and health services, including allied health, community, dental, radiology, disability and rehabilitation services. This mandatory requirement also extends to administration, catering, cleaning and ward staff based in a patient-facing/clinical site.
Staff based at non patient facing/clinical sites such as Roma Mitchell House will not be required to wear a mask if you are able to adhere to physical distancing of 1.5m.
Are there any exceptions?
A mask must be worn at all times when in the physical presence of other people, subject to the following exceptions.
- A person is not required to wear a mask if they have a relevant medical condition, including problems with their breathing, a serious condition of the face, a disability or a mental health condition (evidence of a relevant medical condition must be produced on request i.e. letter from GP or medical professional).
- A mask is not required for a patient or client and person providing care if the mask will hinder the provision of relevant care or impact on safety.
- A mask is not required to be worn in circumstances where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.
- A mask is not required to be worn when a person is eating or drinking.
- A child under the age of 12 is not required to wear a mask.
What kind of mask do I need to wear?
Within our hospitals and health services, the CALHN Infectious Disease and Infection Prevention and Control teams recommends that all staff, visitors and patients wear single-use surgical masks.
Masks should be changed at least every four hours, or if it is compromised (for example damp or damaged).
While cloth masks are popular within the community, all CALHN staff are required to use health service supplied disposable surgical mask while on site. This includes wearing eye protection where clinically indicated as per OWI00811 Transmission Based Precautions.
Visitors coming onto a CALHN site are to be offered a health service supplied disposable surgical mask to wear while on site.
Staff within clinical environments are to wear PPE in accordance with their clinical exposure as defined in the SA Health PPE Matrix.
A public campaign managed by the Department for Health and Wellbeing will inform the community of the need to wear masks on health sites and will be supported with local signage and communications across our sites.
Can I wear my own mask?
On site you will need to wear a workplace issued surgical mask.
Do I need to wear a mask if I can physically distance?
Do I need to wear a mask when I am working in a single office?
Technically no, however if anyone enters your office you will both need to wear them.
Will masks be supplied?
Yes. Masks will be available from your usual supply areas. If you are unsure please speak to your manager.
The logistics team delivered an initial supply of masks to admin (blue spaces) and non-clinical areas, and placed at mail delivery points across the RAH. Please ensure you work at a local level to distribute them.
Imprest locations at RAH, TQEH, Hampstead and Glenside have been topped up in preparation for an increase in demand.
SA Dental will be providing specific information to staff in regards to mask advice for their sites.
Further supplies will need to be ordered through standard oracle ordering process (Oracle code 19047012 – Level 1 for administration use and Oracle code 19047308 – Level 3 for clinical use).
We also ask that if one of our supporting organisations or partners (such as Spotless or ISS) ask for a mask that they are provided with one.
We would also like to remind everyone that we have plenty of supply available in our imprest and at our distribution centre. Please only take what you require to get through the day and do not ‘hoard’ supplies. We have enough PPE to keep our staff, visitors and patients safe.
When am I allowed to remove the mask?
You can remove your mask when eating and drinking. Please remember to consider those around you and physically distance.
When outside our facility buildings, such as in a courtyard, masks can be removed if you are able to maintain physical distancing.
Can I take my mask of to eat?
Yes, please ensure you maintain a physical distance of 1.5m from other people while doing this.
Do patients need to wear a mask?
Patients will only need to wear a mask when they leave their room or cubicle, or when they are unable to maintain physical distancing. Patients in shared rooms only need to wear a mask if they cannot maintain physical distancing. Exceptions for health reasons will apply.
If a patient is alone in their inpatient room/cubicle, they are only required to wear a mask when someone enters the room i.e. nurse.
For more information download the patient and visitor mask advice fact sheet.
Can my patient remove their mask for a clinical need?
Yes. If the provider or carer’s professional opinion is that the wearing of a mask will hinder the provision of care, the patient, resident or client and / or person providing care can remove their mask.
Do I have to wear a mask in public (off site)?
At this time in South Australia it is not mandatory for the general community, but it is recommended to wear a mask when out in public if you are unable to physically distance.
As healthcare workers we should be modelling behaviour for the community.
How often should I replace the mask?
Disposable masks can be worn for no longer than four hours, as long as they remain intact, you haven’t touched your mask and it’s not damp. Masks can be discarded into general waste.
Face masks should be changed following meal breaks or if they are removed at any point. Health care workers can only wear hospital supplied masks within the healthcare facility, not cloth masks.
How do I wear a mask?
- wash or sanitise your hands before putting it on or taking it off
- make sure the mask covers your nose and mouth and fits snugly under your chin, over the bridge of your nose and against the sides of your face
- do not touch the front of your mask while wearing or removing it
- do not allow the mask to hang around your neck or under your nose
- do not reuse single use masks; wash and dry reusable masks after use and store in a clean dry place.
Resources and fact sheets
· How to safely wear a mask poster
For any questions around the use of face masks contact:
Infection Prevention and Control Unit
· Royal Adelaide Hospital, telephone 7074 2810
· The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, telephone 8222 7588
Clinical Worker Health Unit
· Royal Adelaide Hospital, telephone 7117 2306
· The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, telephone 8222 7642
· Afterhours: 0438 976 481