PPE update: Face shields for all UI Health Care employees and guidance on cloth face masks

By Friday, April 10, face shields will be provided for all UI Health Care employees who are working on campus.

Why we’re providing face shields for all, not just those with patient contact

  1. Our Program of Hospital Epidemiology believes that face shields are the best way to keep our teams protected from the spread of COVID-19.
  2. A face shield covers the eyes, nose, and mouth, as well as helps you from touching your face. We know that COVID-19 is spread by droplets, such as from a cough or sneeze, so using face shields helps protect us from these infectious droplets.
  3. Previously, faculty and staff with patient care contact were provided face shields. We’re expanding this to provide shields to all employees to help reduce the risk of asymptomatic spread, as well as protect our team members from COVID-19.

Face masks and face coverings

In accordance with updated guidelines released by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as an added level of prevention for asymptomatic spread, UI Health Care is now recommending that medical-grade face masks be worn underneath face shields by all UI Health Care employees with face-to-face patient contact.

Employees who do not have face-to-face contact with patients can choose to wear their own cloth masks under their face shield.

The following guidance is subject to change based upon the availability of medical-grade masks. We will closely monitor the supply of these masks and may need to convert to cloth masks for all employees and patients if we reach a critical shortage or are rapidly depleting the supply of these masks during the COVID-19 surge. We strongly encourage you to conserve these masks.

We are now recommending that masks be worn—in addition to our face shields— to help prevent asymptomatic spread of COVID-19.

Health care workers with patient encounters

  • Employees who have face-to-face patient contact (within six feet) should use medical-grade face masks. These medical-grade masks will be made available in the clinical areas.
  • The mask should be worn underneath your face shield. Your face shield protects your eyes, protects the mask from contamination, and helps prevent touching of the face and repeated adjustments of the mask. A single mask should be worn all day, and in certain circumstances can be worn more than one day. Discard the mask only when soiled, damaged, or hard to breathe through.
  • Medical-grade masks will be available within clinics or on your unit. If you interact with patients but are within a service that is not assigned to one specific unit, such as Respiratory Therapy, Food and Nutrition Services, etc., please work with your manager.
  • Read more about this here.

Health care workers without patient encounters

  • Face shields will be provided to all employees.
  • Employees with patient contact may choose to wear their own cloth face masks in addition to the face shields if they so choose.

Please note that the individual deployment of face shields will take some time.

Practice safe measures every day

The most effective things every person can do to stop the spread are:

  • Maintain social distance—maintain six feet between you and others. Model this behavior, give praise for those who are practicing good social distance, and provide reminders to those who need it with the simple phrase: “I say it because I care: six feet apart.”
  • Practice frequent hand hygiene—wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Please keep your face shield in the down position, even when you are not interacting with patients. The face shield protects your eyes, nose, and mouth from infectious droplets.

10 comments

    • Hi Diane,
      Please work with your leader to identify how you’ll receive your face shield.

  1. How do we get a shield? I am only occasionally working in the office, so only entering UIHC approximately once a week. Do I get it at the entrance? Or from department managers?

    • Hi Erika,
      Please work with your leader to set up a process for receiving and using a face shield.

  2. That’s fantastic news! Thank you to all involved in working hard to protect UIHC and our entire community!

  3. A question came up today in CSS from a co-worker about the face shields. “Am I required to wear the face shield once I receive one to wear?”

  4. UI HomeCare nursing and delivery staff are in at out of the hospital multiple times a day working directly with patients. How do I get my staff face shields?

    • This was answered during the COVID19 forum today – answer is yes. They are working on distribution due to large volume. They will go through leadership in your area.

  5. Hi my name is Jill. I am a NUC on 3RCE. Somewhere in an email or daily announcement
    I remember seeing something about some neck and shoulder exercises that can be done for tension from wearing the face shields. I am wondering if maybe you could find it for me and if possible print something so that I could post it in our breakroom. I know several people who are struggling with tension in their shoulders and neck. I think if we could post some simple exercises that would help.

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