Horizon Health updates masking guidelines for staff and visitors

by | Oct 3, 2023

Network strengthens masking requirements as COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses increase

The Horizon Health Network issued a media release on Oct. 3 detailing new masking protocols, effective Oct. 4.

“With an increase in COVID-19 and an expected seasonal increase in other respiratory viruses in our hospitals and communities,” the release explained, “Horizon is taking necessary steps to reduce the risk of transmission of respiratory illness in our facilities.”

Horizon officials explained its hospitals would require masking in certain situations and settings.

“If a regional hospital has two or more outbreak units and if a community hospital has one or more outbreak units, staff, physicians, volunteers, patients, social visitors, and Designated Support Persons (DSPs) will be required to wear a medical-grade face mask when patient-facing in that facility,” Horizon stated in its release.

It explained the rule includes all inpatient units, emergency departments and ambulatory care/outpatient services, as well as waiting room areas and other clinical settings.

Masking will not be required in public areas, such as lobbies or cafeterias. However, medical-grade face masks remain available for anyone wishing to wear one at any time.

“We strongly encourage anyone planning to visit a Horizon hospital to check our website for updated information regarding which facilities are experiencing outbreaks on a given day. This information will be available on our Visitor Guidelines at Hospitals and Health Care Facilities page as of Wednesday, Oct. 4,” the release explained.

Horizon Health Network officials describe wearing a medical-grade face mask as an effective, proven way to reduce the risk of transmission of respiratory viruses.

The upgraded protocol explains that all patients, social visitors and DSPs are still required to self-screen for symptoms of COVID-19 before entering a Horizon facility.

Everyone who enters our facilities must perform proper hand hygiene (clean their hands) regularly and practice physical distancing from others.

“We urge everyone to do their part to help keep our facilities safe by answering questions honestly and respectfully every time they arrive,” the release explained.

Social visitors experiencing symptoms are asked not to enter our hospitals, while symptomatic DSPs are asked to contact the nurse manager in the appropriate patient care unit to determine their options.

Social visitors are not permitted to visit patients in a Horizon hospital or any long-term care patient care unit that has a respiratory virus outbreak.

Medical-grade face masks will continue to be required for healthcare workers and DSPs on outbreak units.

“We ask the public to treat our physicians, staff, patients and other visitors to our hospitals with kindness, respect and understanding as we take steps to reduce the risk of transmission of respiratory illness in our facilities and do our best to protect our most vulnerable patients,” Horizon officials said in its release.

FOREST FIRE INDEX – click image for current status

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