Photo Courtesy: Cox Health

CoxHealth Rolling Back COVID-19 Policies, Including Masking

CoxHealth in Springfield is easing up on restrictions dating back to the beginning of COVID-19, including its masking policy.

Officials say the new policies will begin on Tuesday, where staff, healthcare workers and visitors will only be required to wear masks around those at a greater risk.

The health center says the change is being made due to encouraging signs nationwide regarding lower cases and deaths.

The hospital’s full statement can be found below:

CoxHealth is de-escalating our masking approach for patients, visitors and staff. Effective immediately, we will only require masking of healthcare workers, patients and visitors in settings where patients are at the greatest risk.

As we have done throughout the pandemic, we will continue to make patient and staff safety our top priority.

CoxHealth’s internal data supports a stabilization of COVID-19, based on lower overall positivity, hospitalizations, mortality, and staff illness rates. Additionally, since Jan. 8, community prevalence levels in our surrounding counties have been low.

While we are scaling back universal masking, CoxHealth continues to take a risk-based approach to protect our most vulnerable patients. Beginning Wednesday, masks will be optional for visitors and patients, although they remain strongly encouraged in high-risk areas, such as oncology.

A few key points as the change begins:

– Patients and visitors are not required to routinely mask while in our facilities. Patients with respiratory symptoms arriving for care will be asked to mask.

– Staff is to continue masking when providing direct inpatient care or when interacting with patients for a prolonged period of time; such as inside patient rooms, transporting a patient, providing therapy, or ambulating a patient while in an acute care setting (hospital, emergency department, EMS and urgent care).

– Vaccinated staff, patients, and visitors are not required to mask in common areas such as hallways, nurses’ stations, cafeterias, or waiting rooms. Masks should continue to be worn in departments caring for our most vulnerable patients (immunocompromised).

– Visitors are not to enter the facility with COVID-19 symptoms/infection or known COVID-19 exposure. Visitors are strongly encouraged to mask when visiting patients in the NICU or when around immunocompromised patients.

– CoxHealth will continue to provide surgical masks at entrances of healthcare facilities for healthcare workers, patients, or visitors who choose to wear them.

While we will continue to closely monitor community trends, our change in approach is an important step forward in easing pandemic restrictions, while still protecting vulnerable patients we serve.

The change is supported by CoxHealth’s medical directors for Infection Prevention and Employee Health, as well as our Chief Medical Officer, our Critical Care section chair, and our local health departments.