Starting this week, UNC Health’s owned entities* and the UNC School of Medicine will begin making N95 masks available for teammates as an additional mask option due to the high transmissibility of the Omicron variant in our communities.
Starting this week, UNC Health’s owned entities* and the UNC School of Medicine will begin making N95 masks available for teammates as an additional mask option due to the high transmissibility of the Omicron variant in our communities. please follow these steps to optimize the fit and seal of your mask.These optional N95 masks will be available for any UNC Health teammate working on-site and do not require fit testing. If you choose to wear an optional N95 mask,
Note: The option for all teammates to wear an N95 mask does not change our policies regarding N95 masks for teammates working with COVID+ patients or those returning from a COVID-related absence on days 6 – 10.**
With the availability of these optional N95 masks, teammates now have three mask options while at work. View the details below, and please know that the best mask for you is the one that fits well and that you can wear most comfortably throughout your shift at work!
- Surgical/Ear Loop Mask:
- Ear loop masks are still safe and effective at protecting against COVID-19. We have seen very, very few instances of COVID transmission among teammates following our mask policy with ear loop masks and Universal Pandemic Precautions (eyewear). Please watch this video for a simple ‘knot and tuck’ tip to help improve the fit of your ear loop mask.
- Wearing two surgical/ear loop masks can provide additional protection as long as the masks fit well. The fit of the mask is still most important!
- Note that we do not recommend wearing a cloth mask over a surgical/ear loop mask in healthcare or laboratory settings.
- N95 Mask:
- N95 Masks offer the best filtration, but some teammates find them uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time. If you try an N95 but find yourself removing it regularly, please choose either a surgical/ear loop mask or double-masking instead.
- If you choose to wear an optional N95 mask, please follow these steps to optimize the fit and seal of your mask.
- We will begin distributing N95 masks to each unit/department this week, and any teammate working on-site will be able to request one from their manager. It will take a few days next week for N95 supplies to reach all areas – we appreciate your patience in the meantime.
- To ensure we have enough N95 masks for everyone, please plan to use your mask for 5 days (though you should discard it earlier if the mask is soiled, damaged or if used to see a COVID+ patient). All N95 masks will be distributed with a paper bag to store your mask between uses.
We will continue to monitor the level of COVID community transmission and will update this policy and our mask guidance in the future as needed. Thank you for your continued dedication to our patients and to each other as we work together through the pandemic.
* = UNC Health’s owned entities include Caldwell UNC Health Care, Chatham Hospital, Shared Services, UNC Health Alliance, UNC Medical Center, UNC Physicians Network, UNC REX Healthcare and UNC Rockingham Health Care.
- Teammates working with COVID+ patients will still be fit tested per your entity policy to confirm proper N95 fit/seal.
- Teammates returning to work after a COVID diagnosis should wear an N95 mask on days 6 – 10. They can resume wearing the mask of their choice on day 11. Fit testing is not required to use an N95 in this scenario.