Several Chicago-area hospital systems have reinstated their mask policies due to an increase in respiratory virus cases and new recommendations from the Illinois Department of Public Health.
At least four health systems, including more than 20 hospitals, many doctor’s offices and urgent care facilities, have implemented partial or full mask mandates, citing an uptick in COVID-19 cases, flu and RSV.
The policy changes follow guidance issued by the Illinois Department of Public Health earlier in December urging the wearing of masks in health care settings. Due to the increase in respiratory illnesses, IDPH has encouraged healthcare facilities across the state to implement mask policies in patient care areas, particularly if they are caring for people with weakened immune symptoms.
“With the alarming increase in respiratory viruses we are seeing across the state and country, IDPH recommends that healthcare facilities take precautions to reduce the spread of these viruses and protect their patients, staff and visitors ” said IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra. the press release. “We are most concerned about healthcare facilities located in counties with high levels of respiratory virus transmission and hospitalization and recommend mask wearing in patient care areas, particularly in emergency departments and areas caring for immunocompromised patients.”
According to the most recent public data, 10 Illinois counties were listed at a high level of COVID-19 hospitalizations over the past week, which was also the case the week before.
In accordance with IDPH guidelines, new company Endeavor Health, which operates a number of suburban hospitals, updated its masking policy on Tuesday, December 26. Under the amended policy, patients and visitors are required to wear a mask when they feel unwell. respiratory symptoms. Patients in certain high-risk areas are strongly advised to wear a mask, the health system said, adding that those visiting patients in high-risk areas may also be asked to wear a mask.
Endeavor Health includes NorthShore University HealthSystem, Northwest Community Healthcare, Swedish Hospital and Edward-Elmhurst Health.
A mask requirement also went into effect Tuesday at Cook County healthcare facilities, including Stroger Hospital and Provident Hospital, due to rising respiratory illnesses. Masks are required in waiting areas and exam rooms for all staff, patients and visitors ages 2 and older.
Advocate Health Care, which operates 11 hospitals in the Chicago area, recently implemented a limited visitation policy, a measure intended to protect patients and staff from seasonal viruses, according to its website. The policy requires visitors to wear masks in high-risk patient care areas, including patient rooms and other designated locations. Masks are optional in other areas.
In the south suburbs, Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox updated its visitor policy Dec. 20 due to what it calls “the increase in respiratory illnesses in our community.” According to the hospital, patients with positive respiratory symptoms must wear a mask in its emergency departments in New Lenox and Homer Glen and urgent care centers in New Lenox and Mokena.
Other local health systems are also mandating mask wearing, including Ascension, which operates Alexian Brothers Hospital in Hoffman Estates and Saint Joseph Hospital in Joliet, as well as OSF Health Care, the parent organization of Little Medical Center Company of Mary in Evergreen Park.
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