Essentia Health moving to voluntary masking in most situations

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Today, Thursday March 30th, Essentia Health has announced a voluntary masking policy for most staff, patients and visitors. This alteration goes into effect Monday, April 3rd, and applies to all hospitals, clinics and home health care.

“It’s a gradual rolling back of COVID measures, like the preoperative testing. And that was a big thing. And seeing how things go and remember this is actually all in accordance with the CDC option that was published months ago,” says Dr. Rajesh Prabhu, an Infectious Disease Physician at Essentia Health.

Voluntary masking will not apply to Essentia’s long-term care/nursing home facilities or assisted living facilities, which will still have masking protocols.

Hospital systems across the country are seeing fewer deaths and hospitalizations, this highlights how treatments and vaccines have improved greatly.  

“One of the reasons we changed the policy now is the incidence amount of COVID in the community has decreased substantially,” continues Dr. Prabhu.

Masks will still remain available at facility entrances, and patients can request that their care provider or others on their care team wear a mask.

“That’s why we say optional. It’s not going to stay that no one’s going to mask in the hospital. So if you have a health issue and you feel you want that extra layer of protection to mask, you can make it clear.  If a patient feels uncomfortable that their health care provider is unmasked, they can request it and we will mask as well,” finishes Dr. Prabhu.

We reached out to St. Luke’s for comment on their masking regulations, and they had this to say:

Based on the stable number of COVID-19 positive cases within the organization, St. Luke’s made a few updates to its masking policy, effective March 20.

Highlights include:

  • Patients are no longer required to mask unless they are presenting with COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Visitors are no longer required to mask unless they are visiting a COVID-positive patient.
  • To minimize the risk of asymptomatic spread of COVID-19 to our patients, staff must continue to mask in patient rooms and for all patient-facing activities.
  • Unvaccinated employees are required to wear a mask at all times.