Updated Guidance Regarding Mask Wearing

Diagnostic Imaging Northwest is updating its guidance for mask usage within our facilities. With previous restricted PPE inventory and availability, recommendations for mask wearing were initially limited to patients or staff with respiratory symptoms, sick contacts or higher risk patient encounters. Now that we have adequate inventory on hand and taking into account emerging evidence on the subject, we are updating our policies/procedures as follows:

  • ALL providers, staff, patients, and visitors in Diagnostic Imaging Northwest and TRA Medical Imaging facilities will be required to wear a mask at all times while in the clinic.
  • Patients and visitors will be provided with masks upon entering the facility and are encouraged to take the mask with them after their visit.

Proper technique is required to maximize the effectiveness and safety of mask wearing.

How to put on a face mask:

  1. Clean your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer before touching the mask.
  2. Remove a mask from the box and make sure there are no obvious tears or holes in either side of the mask.
  3. Determine which side of the mask is the top. The side of the mask that has a stiff bendable edge is the top and is meant to mold to the shape of your nose.
  4. Determine which side of the mask is the front. The colored side of the mask is usually the front and should face away from you, while the white side touches your face.
  5. Face mask with ear loops: Hold the mask by the ear loops. Place a loop around each ear.
  6. Mold or pinch the stiff edge to the shape of your nose.
  7. Pull the bottom of the mask over your mouth and chin.

The mask must ALWAYS cover both your mouth and nose!
Avoid touching your face while wearing your mask!
If you do touch your face or the mask, wash your hands!
Never touch the inside of your mask with unclean hands!

How to remove a face mask:

  1. Clean your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer before touching the mask.
  2. Avoid touching the front of the mask. The front of the mask is contaminated. Only touch the ear loops/ties/band.
  3. Face mask with ear loops: Hold both of the ear loops and gently lift and remove the mask.
  4. If you are not going to reuse the mask, throw it directly in the trash. Clean your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer.
  5. If you are going to reuse the mask, store it in a container labeled with your name that is separate from anyone else’s mask. A paper bag works well. Wash your hands after storing the mask as well as before and after putting it back on.

Why are we making this change?

There is evidence that proper mask wearing can decrease the transmission of respiratory viruses, including emerging evidence from other countries that this is also true for COVID-19. Worn properly, masks provide some level of protection to the wearer. Additionally, having everyone wear masks decreases the environmental spread of respiratory droplets. Said another way, if everyone wears a mask we should all be less likely to transmit respiratory infections.

As you may be hearing in the news, guidance on this topic is also evolving at the federal level. Universal mask wearing was really not an option earlier in the outbreak as our PPE reserves were low with uncertain prospects for resupply. Now that we have a sustainable inventory, this new policy seems like the right thing to do in order to maximize safety for our patients and staff.

Interested in learning more? https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/03/would-everyone-wearing-face-masks-help-us-slow-pandemic

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