Starting Tuesday, April 11, NMC will change the requirements for masking in our buildings to allow patients and visitors to not wear masks in public spaces. Masks will still be required in the Emergency Department, the Family Birth Center, Progressive Care Unit and Diagnostic Imaging.
This approach will be used for one month while NMC monitors the conditions of infectious disease in the community. The second phase of masking policy changes will come on Tuesday, May 11 when NMC will move to symptom-based masking only. Patients with cold or flu-like symptoms will be required to wear a mask, and masking will continue in the Infusion Clinic and whenever isolation precautions require it.
Additionally, any patient who would like to wear a mask is welcome and strongly encouraged to do so, and to ask their care team to wear a mask as well. The hospital will continue to provide masks for anyone who chooses to wear one.
“As the pandemic changes into a more endemic phase, we recognized that it was time to safely relax masking for patients and staff, while taking a thoughtful approach guided by data to ensure we protect our most vulnerable populations,” said Chief Medical and Quality Officer Dr. John Minadeo.
The CDC relaxed masking guidelines in the fall due to the high percentage of vaccine and infection-induced immunity. Vermont hospitals, however, maintained mask mandates over the winter because of the spike of flu, respiratory illnesses and COVID-19.
“Now that hospitalization rates of all those conditions have dropped, and with HHS planning to let the COVID-19 Emergency Declaration expire on May 11, most hospitals are expanding the areas where masking can be optional,” said Dr. Minadeo.
“This is a welcome change for our community and our hospital,” said CEO Peter J. Wright. “We think this phased approach will appropriately safeguard our most vulnerable patients. We appreciate the support and cooperation of our community as we navigate this new phase in healthcare.”