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Personal Protective Equipment

Updated 10/1/2020 (Effective 9/30/2020)

Universal Masking Protocol

UConn Health’s Universal Mask Protocol requires all employees, patients, learners, visitors, and others in UConn Health facilities to wear masks at all times while in any public space or an area of the facility where they may be within 6 feet of another individual, in the absence of a medical contraindication.

  • Gaiters, bandanas, and masks containing exhalation valves will not be considered acceptable masks in satisfying our universal masking requirement.
  • Homemade masks may be worn by employees, patients, learners, visitors, and others in non-clinical areas; however, for employees and learners in the clinical areas, homemade masks shall only be worn if covered with a surgical or procedure mask.
  • UConn Health-issued N95 respirators with exhalation valves have been approved for use in specific clinical areas for non-sterile procedures only; such respirators shall not be used in any other area or for any other purpose apart from those approved, and all employees and learners must wear a procedure mask over the N95 respirator with exhalation valve issued when wearing such respirators.
Different masks that are not allowed

Bandanas, gaiters, and masks with exhalation valves are not allowed.

Any individual who seeks to enter the facility without an acceptable mask will be provided one prior to entry, which will be required to be worn while at UConn Health.

Masks must be worn correctly while on campus, covering the nose and mouth. If a mask cannot satisfactorily cover the nose and mouth, the individual will be provided a hospital-issued mask, which will be required to be worn while in UConn Health facilities.

In situations in which masks are removed (i.e., eating), individuals must maintain 6 feet of distance from others to reduce the potential for infection transmission.

Questions or Concerns About Universal Masking Protocols?
Contact Infection Prevention/Epidemiology through the page operator.

Communications Archive

10/1/2020: Universal Mask Protocol (Effective 9/30/2020)

On April 3, 2020, UConn Health instituted a Universal Mask protocol that required all employees, patients, learners, visitors and others in UConn Health facilities to wear masks at all times while in any public space or an area of the facility where they may be within 6 feet of another individual.

This communication serves as an update to the UConn Health Universal Mask protocol. All employees, patients, learners, visitors and others will continue to be required to wear masks while in UConn Health facilities, in the absence of a medical contraindication. Based on published science and guidance from public health authorities, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, gaiters, bandanas and masks containing exhalation valves will not be considered acceptable masks in satisfying our universal masking requirement. Homemade masks may be worn by employees, patients, learners, visitors and others in non-clinical areas; however, for employees and learners in the clinical areas, homemade masks shall only be worn if covered with a surgical or procedure mask. Additionally, UConn Health-issued N95 respirators with exhalation valves have been approved for use in specific clinical areas for non-sterile procedures only; such respirators shall not be used in any other area or for any other purpose apart from those approved, and all employees and learners must wear a procedure mask over the N95 respirator with exhalation valve issued when wearing such respirators.

Any individual who seeks to enter the facility without an acceptable mask will be provided one prior to entry which will be required to be worn while at UConn Health.

Different masks that are not allowed

Bandanas, gaiters, and masks with exhalation valves are not allowed.

As a reminder, masks must be worn correctly while on campus, covering the nose and mouth. If a mask cannot satisfactorily cover the nose and mouth the individual will be provided a hospital-issued mask which will be required to be worn while in UConn Health facilities.

In situations in which masks are removed (i.e., eating), individuals must maintain 6 feet of distance from others in order to reduce the potential for infection transmission.

Employees or learners with questions or concerns about compliance with UConn Health’s Universal Mask protocol should contact Infection Prevention/Epidemiology through the page operator.

9/10/2020: Reprocessing of N95 Masks

The service to reprocess our used N95 masks continues, and has been a successful endeavor. The reprocessing company we currently use was an awarded an extension from the federal government that allows their services to be utilized until the end of the year under our current contract. Their processing site in Connecticut is closing in September, however, we will be able to continue service to regional sites in New York and Massachusetts.

Please reprocess your N95 mask. If the mask is soiled at all it will be discarded, either through our sorting process at UConn Health, or at Battelle.

The following information should be written clearly on each mask submitted for reprocessing:

Name: first initial, last name (ex: K. Falotico)

Unit or patient care area where the mask can be returned to after reprocessing (ex: ICU)

Our Battelle site identifier: EYY

If you have not set up a mask collection bin or collection area please call Facilities. For outpatient areas, to arrange for pickup of used N95 masks please contact Logistics. For inpatient areas, to arrange for pickup of used N95 masks please contact Facilities.

5/15/2020: Masking Reminder

Don't Forget Your Masks! In addition to UConn Health’s policy requiring universal masking in our facilities, Governor Lamont issued an Executive Order on April 20 requiring face coverings or masks in all public spaces. As an important reminder, please be sure to wear a mask or face covering at all times during your daily routine, including when you enter and leave our facilities, and when you are passing through corridors and visiting community areas. Thank you!

4/3/2020: Universal Masking for All UConn Health Employees

Please note the following changes to the Masking Protocol.

Expanded Masking Protocol (Effective 4/3/20)

We have decided to institute a universal masking policy that includes all employees on our campus, i.e., masking will no longer be limited to clinical care employees and staff who support such employees in the clinical areas. Effective 4/3/20 it is expected that all employees on our campus will wear masks while at work.

Provision of Masks

Starting on 4/3/20, managers in the non-clinical areas will issue surgical and procedure masks to employees (managers should contact Kim Varasconi, 860-679-3759, for issuance). Please note however that because of the short supply of surgical and procedure masks and the need to preserve as many masks as possible for clinical employees and those who support them in the clinical areas, we anticipate that unless we receive an adequate replenishment of supplies, we may run short of surgical masks for non-clinical/clinical support employees. As such, only one mask at a time will be issued per person and the employee must safeguard it and use until it is no longer appropriate for use. In addition, wearing a home-made mask as a substitute is allowed in non-clinical areas. In the clinical areas, homemade masks must be worn along with a surgical or procedure mask. We will continue to explore sources for additional surgical and procedure masks. Finally, please be patient with logistics as it may take some time to issue masks to all areas.

Thank you as always for all you are doing.

Regards,

Andrew Agwunobi, M.D., M.B.A.
Chief Executive Officer, UConn Health
Executive Vice President for Health Affairs

3/30/2020: Updated Protocols – Mandatory Masking for Patients and Clinical Employees

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to inform you that we currently have 15 COVID-19 positive patients in our hospital representing a significant increase from 3 patients a week ago. We also have 8 “rule/out” COVID-19 patients. I want to thank the amazing employees and providers who are taking care of these patients during this difficult time.

UConn Health strictly follows and in some cases goes beyond the precautions recommended by the CDC to protect our staff, visitors, patients, and learners. However two of the 15 patients were admitted to our hospital for unrelated diagnoses before it became apparent they were also suffering from COVID-19. As such a number of our employees interacted with the patients before the patients were masked and placed in isolation. Fortunately, due to our recent universal masking policy for healthcare workers, most employees were wearing masks when they encountered the patients. Given specific issues pertaining to the recent exposures we are customizing the approach to quarantine for these employees so as to err on the side of caution. However today we are also announcing two new protocols below to ensure to the extent possible that should we have similar exposures in future they would fall into the “Low Risk” category not requiring quarantine as per CDC guidelines.

New Masking Protocols (Effective 3/31/20)

  1. Patient Masking: All UConn Health inpatients and outpatients to the extent practical will now be required to wear a surgical or procedure mask.
  2. Employee Masking Now Non-Voluntary: UConn Health employees involved in patient care or supporting those involved in patient care are expected to wear a surgical or procedure mask at all times in the patient care areas.

NB: Home-Made Masks: Although UConn Health does not endorse the effectiveness of, nor promote the use of home-made masks such masks are now allowable as long as a standard procedure mask or surgical mask is worn at the same time.

For information on the protocol for low-medium and high risk exposures please see the attached “Guidelines for the Asymptomatic Healthcare Worker with Exposure to an Individual with COVID-19 with Prolonged Contact in the Healthcare or Community Setting” compiled by Dr. David Banach, UConn Health’s Hospital Epidemiologist and Head of Infection Prevention.

Again I would personally like to thank all the providers and staff who are working on the frontlines of this pandemic. We will continually evolve our guidelines to keep everyone as safe as possible while delivering much needed care. If you have questions or want to report a case of suspected employee exposure please call the COVID-19 Call Center at 860-679-3199.

We will get through this together.

Best Regards,

Andrew Agwunobi, M.D., M.B.A.
Chief Executive Officer, UConn Health
Executive Vice President for Health Affairs

3/27/2020: Universal Masking for Clinical Areas

As a follow up to the message below, please understand that our Logistics Department is stocking all clinical areas with an increased amount of masks to satisfy the needs associated with this new broadened surgical/procedure mask protocol. We expect all areas to be adequately stocked by end of day tomorrow. In the meantime please continue to use handwashing and other infection control safeguards as usual. I would also like to clarify that the 5-7 days noted in the letter is only a guideline aimed at conserving the supply of masks; if masks are soiled or damaged before then they will of course be replaced. Thank you for your patience.

Regards,

Andy

3/26/2020

The safety of our providers and employees is always our top priority. As you may be aware on March 25th Partners Healthcare in Boston implemented a new surgical mask protocol based on the community transmission of Covid-19. Specifically they announced that their employees would begin to wear face masks (Surgical or procedural) at all times. As such, over the last two days, UConn Health’s leadership team has been considering whether to implement a similar practice. Our main considerations have been whether we have enough surgical and procedure masks to implement such a policy and which categories of healthcare employees would it pertain to in order to ensure a combination of employee safety and adequacy of supplies.

I am therefore announcing that after much consideration and in an abundance of caution we have decided that we will also provide surgical or procedure masks to our employees in clinical areas to wear at all times. This would include doctors, other providers, nurses, front desk workers, Clinical Office Assistants, Medical Assistants, housekeepers, maintenance workers, and other employees who come in contact with patients or who enter clinical areas to support healthcare workers. Please note this new expanded masking practice pertains to the provision of surgical masks and procedure masks not to N-95 respirator masks. N-95 masks are reserved for interactions with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 positive patients and other specified clinical interactions.

To conserve surgical and procedure masks, each mask should be worn for 5-7 days or as long as they remain intact and are not visibly soiled. Please mark your mask with your name and store the mask in an envelope or paper bag in a secure place at work when you leave for home. Employees should request a mask from their supervisor for replacement if the existing mask becomes soiled or damaged.

Thank you for your wonderful work and we will continually review this policy based on the utilization of masks as well as the evolution of national guidelines.

Regards,

Andrew Agwunobi, M.D., M.B.A.
Chief Executive Officer, UConn Health
Executive Vice President for Health Affairs