Mask mandates were lifted in Illinois this week however, the four major healthcare providers in central Illinois are reminding the public that some areas still require masks.
In a joint statement today, Memorial Health, HSHS Illinois, Springfield Clinic, and SIU Medicine aimed to remind the public that masks remain mandatory for healthcare sites.
President and CEO of Jacksonville Memorial Hospital, Dr. Scott Boston says even though the rules have changed in the public sector, in healthcare, the rules remain the same. He says in areas that really impact public health, it is beneficial when all four entities can give a united message to help keep patients safe.
“We are all saying that we think it’s the right thing to do to follow the CDC guidance right now, and that does require everyone in the hospital healthcare settings to be wearing a mask. This protects our patients, it protects our staff, and in a healthcare environment where patient safety is a priority, this is an important thing for us to continue.
So when you come into the hospital or you come into the clinic we will still be under the same rules and regulations that we were previously, and we will be asking everybody to be wearing a medical-grade mask to ensure the safety of our patients and our staff.”
Boston says source control is one of the best ways to keep patients, staff, and colleagues safe, and the most effective source control is by wearing a mask in healthcare settings.
“A lot of our patients are in an immunocompromised state so they are particularly vulnerable, and so it’s just the right thing for us to do to protect our patients. You know, they come to the hospital to get better they don’t come to the hospital to get sick. So we want to do everything we can to prevent all of our patients, but particularly those immunocompromised patients from being exposed to any Coronavirus.”
Last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control issued new recommendations that relaxed mask requirements in many areas. Illinois’ mask mandate also was lifted on Feb. 28th. However, officials stressed that those changes do not apply in health care settings. Health care employees also are still required to wear masks at all times in inpatient care and public areas of health care buildings.
Boston along with health care leaders from all four organizations are urging the public to treat employees with civility and respect if they are directed to wear a mask.
“I would ask that the visitors and the public who come into the hospital be patient and accepting of our standards. We really appreciate all the support the public and the visitors can give us. This really is the best thing for our patients and it is a requirement and some understanding and some patience from the public as we continue these masking rules.”
Boston says requirements and protocols in hospitals overall have not relaxed very much in an effort to keep the spread of any infection as low as possible.
He says locally, the numbers are down dramatically at Jacksonville Memorial Hospital and overall things are much better than they were in January. Boston cautions the public though that Covid-19 has not fully gone away.
As of today, there is one Covid positive patient in the intensive care unit at Jacksonville Memorial Hospital.