Face masks and coverings—Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions–Face masks

Where will I get a medical-grade mask?

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.

Who should wear medical-grade face masks?
Updated on 05/07/2020 at 10:10 am

If you work directly with or have face-to-face contact with patients OR if you work in a patient-facing area, you should wear a medical-grade mask in addition to your face shield.

Why weren’t we wearing masks to begin with?

Face shields are your primary protection against droplet and contact spread and should continue to be worn at all times, as they have several advantages over masks, such as protection for the eyes, nose, and mouth; protection of your mask against contamination; and prevention of touching of the face. They can also be cleaned, disinfected, and reused, so will continue to provide protection if critical mask shortages continue. We are adding medical-grade masks to align more closely with CDC recommendations.

What is a medical-grade mask?

You should wear a medical-grade mask, also known as a surgical mask or isolation mask. This does not include N95 respirators.

What type of face covering should patients wear?
Updated on 05/07/2020 at 10:09 am

All patients and visitors who arrive at our facilities for care who do not have their own face mask will be provided with a medical-grade mask. If the patient arrives with their own cloth mask they will not be asked to remove their mask and put on a new one.

Patients unable to wear a face mask for medical reasons will be provided a face shield. Face masks should not be worn by children age two or younger.

Patients who have COVID-19 or are PUIs should wear medical-grade masks.

Does the type of my cloth mask matter? Where do I get a cloth mask?

Our Program of Hospital Epidemiology has selected two cloth mask patterns that fully cover the mouth and nose. You can find these patterns on our In-Kind donation page on uihc.org. We are also accepting community donations and donations through the United Way.

Where should I store my medical-grade or cloth mask?

You should store masks in a clean, dry space.

Do I wash my hands before putting on a mask (either medical-grade or cloth)?

Yes, you should thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer before putting on your mask.

Should I wash my hands after removing a mask (either medical-grade or cloth)?

Yes, you should thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer after removing your mask.

How often should I clean my cloth mask?

You should launder your cloth mask daily. 

How do I clean/launder my cloth mask?

Clean your cloth face mask in non-scented/allergy free detergent. Do not use dryer sheets.

Is there a central laundering service that UI Health Care provides?

At this time, we are not providing central laundering services for personal cloth masks.

Read more:

Face shields—Frequently asked questions

What type of mask to wear with your face shield and when

PPE guidance for shared spaces