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Harrington to require unvaccinated staff to wear flu masks

SOUTHBRIDGE -- Harrington HealthCare System is requiring all employees, physicians and volunteers who have not received the flu vaccine to wear surgical masks when they come within three feet of a patient or are entering a patient room or an enclosed treatment area.


“Because of the spread of the flu in the area, we have instituted our masking policy,” said Edward H. Moore, President and CEO of Harrington HealthCare System.  “We also want to ensure that our staff and their families are safe during flu season.  Requiring unvaccinated employees to wear masks when they are near patients is critical to patient safety.


"Unfortunately, there are some staff members who would like to receive a flu vaccination but, because of valid medical reasons, are unable to do so," he added.


Harrington’s masking policy will continue until the end of flu season.  Harrington is continuing to monitor the flu stats daily as well as state, regional, and national activity.


“Influenza is a serious but preventable disease,” said Sue Valentine, Infection Preventionist at Harrington. “As healthcare workers, we need to do everything we can to stay healthy and keep our patients healthy.”


This initiative is in effect for all Harrington medical facilities -- the Harrington Hospital campus in Southbridge, Harrington HealthCare at Hubbard in Webster, Harrington HealthCare at Charlton and Harrington HealthCare at 169, also in Charlton -- as well as Harrington Physician Services offices.


More than 90 percent of all Harrington employees, physicians and volunteers have been vaccinated and our campaign now includes family members.


The vaccine is just one of the ways Harrington is helping to protect patients, staff and family members from the flu. Additional measures include staff education, hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette. Patients with a positive flu swab will be isolated on droplet precautions.

Harrington is not restricting visitors at this time, but is asking those who are ill to avoid visiting patients if at all possible.


It is not too late to get a flu shot this season. Please contact your Primary Care Physician.


The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness and is responsible for as many as 35,000 deaths per year. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that everyone six months and older receive a flu shot each year.