On Tuesday, April 28, Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) began requiring masks for all who enter an ARHS facility. This new requirement applies to all employees, even those in non-clinical areas, patients and vendors. Additionally, in those rare instances where visitors may be allowed inside an ARHS facility, they too will be required to wear a face mask.
“We understand it may feel different to wear a mask. However, the smallest things can sometimes make the biggest difference,” said Chuck Mantooth, President and CEO of Appalachian Regional Healthcare System. “Masks help prevent people spreading COVID-19 to others before they know they are sick, and we all have a part to play in protecting each other. Our employees are leading by example because we deeply care about our community. We will continue to adapt and do everything we can to ensure the health and safety our patients, staff, vendors and visitors.”
Why is ARHS implementing this requirement?
The CDC updated their recommendations for healthcare personnel on April 13 by communicating, “as part of source control efforts, healthcare personnel should wear a face mask at all times, while they are in the healthcare facility.”
The Joint Commission also believes that universal masking within healthcare settings is a critical tool to protect staff and patients from being infected by asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic individuals and should be implemented in any community where coronavirus is occurring.
What type of face mask is required and how can I get one?
Patients will be encouraged to arrive wearing a cloth face mask. If they do not, they will be provided with a cloth (or OSHA approved yellow) face mask when they enter the entry checkpoints at Watauga Medical Center (WMC) and Cannon Memorial Hospital (CMH).
Patients entering an outpatient medical office will be provided with a cloth (or OSHA approved yellow) face mask at check-in.
Per CDC guidelines, face masks should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or anyone who is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
If you have additional questions about wearing a face mask to your appointment, please call the appropriate facility prior to your arrival.