On July 6th, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) updated the Comprehensive Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Guidance based on CDC recommendations to clarify the PPE that health care personnel (HCP) use in a clinical care area, especially during this time when providers are trying to optimize PPE supplies. Although this guidance is specifically written for health facility use, there are some best practices that may be helpful for home health agencies when reviewing and updating their protocols.
In this updated guidance DPH has adopted a universal facemask use policy for health care personnel, to use at all times when in the clinical setting. Facemasks are defined as surgical or procedure masks worn to protect the mouth/nose against infectious materials. Homemade and cloth facemasks are not considered PPE. Their capability to protect HCP has not been demonstrated and they have not been shown to be effective in preventing transmission of illness.
DPH also updated the guidance regarding the use of KN95 respirators to be consistent with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) update to the Non-NIOSH Approved Respirator Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) concerning non-NIOSH-approved respirators that have been approved in other countries. Consistent with the FDA’s updated EUA, KN95 respirators may be considered for use as a substitute for N95 respirators only if:
- N95 respirators are not available, and
- The KN95 respirators have been tested for filtration effectiveness, and
- The use of KN95 respirators has been approved by your organization.
If a N95 respirator or equivalent is not available, a facemask should be used.
For more details on optimizing PPE refer to the updated guidance.
Image Credit: NurseTogether / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)