Providence Medical Center changes masking requirements

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Providence Medical Center has made masking optional for the public and their fully vaccinated staff effective April 25.  

“Individuals can certainly continue to wear masks if they feel more comfortable, but it’s time that patients see our smiles and expressions once again and see our lips and voices clearly to facilitate understanding of important communication and information,” explained Kris Giese, interim CEO at Providence.

“We have been monitoring a variety of metrics regarding state and local transmission and positivity rates, hospital capacity, employee illness, etc. for the past two years.  Specific and extremely conservative criteria have been established as the trigger for unmasking which have recently been met,” Valerie Hangman, Director of Quality Assurance and Improvement said.  “We will continue to monitor relevant metrics on a weekly basis and will assess the re-establishment of mask wearing if the data suggests that course.”  

Providence Medical Center is compliant with the recent CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Currently, 97.3% of staff are fully vaccinated with the remainder having been granted a religious or medical exemption.  

“Providence has always maintained a laser focus on infection prevention and control, but over the course of the pandemic we’ve added even more safeguards and safety nets,” said Lindsay Kvols, ARNP, Infection Preventionist at the hospital.  

"In addition to basic infection control measures, such as stringent hand hygiene requirements, appropriate utilization of protective equipment, required employee education, established isolation precautions, we have also added shoe sanitizers at our entrances to reduce floor contamination, routine testing for COVID 19 prior to inpatient admission to facilitate appropriate isolation if necessary, negative air pressure units, daily employee self-monitoring, physical barriers  and a variety of other measures to ensure the safety of our patients, visitors and staff.  In terms of disease transmission, our facilities have never been safer,” Kvols continued. 

High risk procedures and areas of the hospital have been identified where the potential of exposure to COVID-19 and other pathogens is greater.  Masking will continue in those areas, regardless of the metrics.  

“The pandemic has taught us a great deal,” Giese said.  “Healthcare workers have always recognized the value of touch and empathy as a vital aspect of treatment and healing. We underestimated, though, the significance of our expressions, a patient’s need to recognize the faces of their caregivers and the necessity for our patients to see our lips when speaking. Our decision to unmask is to fulfill our commitment to deliver the highest quality of care, and caring, to our community.”  

PMC administration and staff would like to thank the public for their support and cooperation with our COVID protocols throughout these past years.

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