SALEM, Va. (WFXR) -– LewisGale Regional Health System notified WFXR on Wednesday morning that staff and healthcare providers will wear masks in all patient care areas rather than using them for suspected or positive coronavirus cases.
According to hospital officials, this “universal masking policy” comes in addition to the temperature check process implemented last week and will apply to all LewisGale Regional Health System facilities, including LewisGale Hospital Alleghany, LewisGale Hospital Montgomery, LewisGale Hospital Pulaski, and LewisGale Medical Center.
LewisGale says masks will only be optional for staff in non-patient care areas who can consistently maintain a social distance of at least six feet.
“Our top priority is protecting our patients, clinicians, nurses, and colleagues so we can best serve our communities through the duration of this pandemic,” says Lance Jones, LewisGale chief executive officer and market president. “These new guidelines apply to all areas of our patient care facilities, not just those where suspected COVID or COVID-positive patients are being treated.”
Hospital officials say the difficulty of maintaining social distancing in a busy patient care environment led to this universal masking policy. Furthermore, LewisGale representatives say the HCA Healthcare system currently has enough personal protective equipment (PPE), they will continue to take steps to conserve PPE, including reusing and reprocessing of PPE when appropriate.
According to LewisGale, facilities are deploying three types of masks, depending on the clinical role, the type of care the patient is receiving, and the level of suspicion for infection with COVID:
- Level I “procedure” masks for all staff not in need of higher levels of protection and — when paired with a full face shield — for treating suspected or confirmed coronavirus patients.
- Level 3 masks for staff caring directly for suspected or confirmed coronavirus patients (except when performing aerosolized procedures) and for additional protection from fluids and droplets.
- N-95 respirators for staff caring for suspected or confirmed coronavirus patients and performing aerosolizing procedures such as intubation, nebulization, bronchoscopy, or suctioning.
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