Hamilton doctor seeks to normalize ‘dumb’ N95 respirators

Dr. Joe Oliver is on a mission to normalize the use of ridiculous masks. Well, silly for some. It potentially saves lives for many.

Oliver much of the past year has passed helping to inoculate the Hamiltonians against COVID-19. But as people sat in his vaccine clinics to get the injection, he kept thinking about how terribly ironic it was to vaccinate people against a deadly airborne virus while at the same time wearing a cloth mask. baggy that slid halfway. of their faces.

“It started to look unethical,” he said about letting the masks literally slide off.

So he started talking, nonchalantly suggesting that people try N95 more protective respirator More expensive.

Surprisingly, many already had some at home.

“But they weren’t sure whether to use them or they felt a little weird using them,” said Oliver, a pediatrician who also works with the Shelter Health Network in Hamilton and the Waypoint Center for Mental Health in Penetanguishene.

I wanted to change that. So he took to Twitter.

“I know MANY people who tell me they have N95 at home, but they feel weird using it because they don’t see others doing it,” Oliver wrote in a tweet on Sunday. “Please anyone who posts a photo or changes their profile photo to one (with) N95 enabled.”

The tweet garnered 1,000 likes in just over a day. And the selfies of the N95 began to arrive.

“Here’s my (8 year old) looking classy in a black N95 at Casa Loma,” one person tweeted.

“My life preserver, when you are drowning the last thing you should be interested in is how you look inside the life preserver,” another posted.

Oliver’s message has strong backing.

While the guide to masks has changed throughout the pandemic, starting with the unfortunate recommendation not to use them, the best experts are now firmly in the next field: the higher the quality of the mask, the better the protection.

Last week, the director of the Ontario Scientific Advisory Board said that single-layer cloth masks might not provide sufficient protection against the Omicron variant.

“The problem here is that if you have a single layer, the ability to filter is absolutely minimal and it doesn’t make any difference,” said Dr. Peter Juni, noting that N95s are a better option.

In November, the Public Health Agency of Canada also updated your guidelines on wearing masks, saying that “medical masks and respirators provide better protection” than non-medical masks. The key, they add, is that they should look good with your face. Some experts even recommend using medical tape to seal the gaps.

Still, skin selection remains a contentious topic in some settings.

In Hamilton public schools, for example, staff are required to wear a “board-provided medical mask.”

“We are awaiting instructions from the province on N95 respirators specifically as an alternative for staff before the return from in-person learning,” said Shawn McKillop, spokesperson for the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board.

On the Catholic board, President Patrick Daly said the Ministry of Education “advised school boards at the beginning of the pandemic that all staff working in schools should wear ASTM level 2 medical grade masks.”

Those are the masks the board is providing to the staff. However, “through the Ontario Catholic School Trustees Association, we continue to advocate for the provision / use of N95 masks,” he added.

Regardless, finding an N95 or similar KN95 could be the hardest part of any uphill mask battle.

The respirators have been sold at places like Costco, and Oliver buys his from the Canadian manufacturer. Vitacore and search for reputable retailers through a site called Masks4Canada.orgBut mask seekers are still struggling to find supply amid recent demand. And for some, the cost can be prohibitive. Vitacore lists 30-unit packages at around $ 80.

Oliver would like to put more masks in the hands of those who cannot afford them. Has started a GoFundMe to help with that effort.

As for the positive response to his tweet, Oliver called it “amazing.” He loves to see people wear his masks, some that look like duck bills, “loud and proud.”

“The dumber the better,” he said. “That is the new normal.”

Katrina Clarke is a reporter for The Spectator. [email protected]


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