Salt Lake City, UT -- (ReleaseWire) -- 03/22/2021 --Although Utah's statewide mask mandate expires on April 10, mask guidelines for Intermountain Healthcare caregivers, patients, and visitors at Intermountain hospitals and facilities won't be changing.
"In a year unlike any we've ever experienced, caregivers have been extraordinary in keeping each other and our patients safe by following PPE guidelines, and we need to continue to do so," said Eddie Stenehjem, MD, Intermountain Healthcare infectious diseases physician, who provided an update via Facebook.
Intermountain caregivers working in patient-facing areas or with visitors will continue to follow all personal protective equipment (PPE) guidelines and wear a procedure mask and eye protection. Intermountain caregivers in non-patient-facing areas will continue to wear cloth face coverings.
Patients and visitors should continue to wear cloth face coverings. Masking will continue to be required within all Intermountain hospitals and facilities.
"Our guidelines have worked and it's important to continue our focus on patient and caregiver safety," said Dr. Stenehjem.
Other reasons why Intermountain isn't changing masking guidelines for patient and caregivers right now: The risk of transmission of COVID-19 variants remains a concern, especially with movement between counties and states.
"Masks and face coverings are most effective when used in combination with physical distancing and frequent hand hygiene," added Dr. Stenehjem.
"We had a mask requirement in our hospitals, in our clinic facilities well before any kind of state mandate. We did it because masks protect patients, they protect caregivers and they protect visitors, just plain and simple," Dr. Stenehjem added.
The policy is continuing because Intermountain we feels it is "our duty" to take the precaution against spreading the coronavirus, especially among patients who are more vulnerable because of their medical conditions. Likewise, Intermountain caregivers want to be there for the community to provide medical care needed, and need to stay well themselves to do so.
Dr. Stenehjem also added the level of risk is being evaluated weekly.
"We'll pull that back when we deem that it's safe for all those involved. The reason we do it is out of an abundance of caution." Dr. Stenehjem said.
About Intermountain Healthcare
Intermountain Healthcare is a not-for-profit system of 24 hospitals, 215 clinics, a Medical Group with 2,500 employed physicians and advanced practice clinicians, a health insurance company called SelectHealth, and other health services in Idaho, Utah, and Nevada. Intermountain is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare by using evidence-based best practices to consistently deliver high-quality outcomes and sustainable costs.