All LewisGale staff in patient care areas now required to wear masks

Previous policy only required masks when treating suspected COVID positive patients

SALEM, Va. – All staff and healthcare providers within the LewisGale Regional Health System will now be required to wear masks.

Originally, masks were only required for anyone who came in contact with a suspected or confirmed positive case of coronavirus.

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LewisGale officials say this expansion is being put in place because while evidence that shows social distancing is a key strategy for interrupting the spread of COVID-19, that can be difficult to maintain in a busy work environment. This is in addition to a temperature check put in place last week.

“Our top priority is protecting our patients, clinicians, nurses, and colleagues so we can best serve our communities through the duration of this pandemic,” said Lance Jones, LewisGale chief executive officer and market president.

Officials with LewisGale say they are confident that they will have enough masks and gloves for all staff members and healthcare providers to use throughout this health crisis. Masks will also be optional for staff in non-patient care areas who maintain a social distance of at least six feet.

While officials say there is enough personal protective equipment (PPE) within the LewisGale health system, they will take steps to conserve PPE, including reusing PPE when appropriate.

Three types of masks will be administered, depending on the clinical role, type of care the patient is receiving and the level of suspicion for a positive coronavirus infection.

  1. Level I “procedure” masks for staff not needing high levels of protection. LewisGale says these masks can also be used to treat for suspected or confirmed COVID patients when paired with a full face shield.
  2. Level 3 masks for protection from fluids and droplets. These are to be used by staff caring directly for suspected coronavirus patients.
  3. N-95 respirators for staff members caring suspected COVID positive patients. These are to be used during intubation, nebulization, bronchoscopy or suctioning

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