Asante is ending its requirement for source-control masking within all its medical facilities on Monday, April 3, nearly three years to the day (April 1, 2020) when masking became mandatory at all Asante locations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Asante’s decision follows the Oregon Health Authority’s recent announcement that it will end its masking requirements for all health care settings. Additionally, OSHA has stated it will align its guidelines with OHA’s recommendations.
Lifting the masking mandate means employees (including unvaccinated staff with an approved religious or medical exception), affiliated providers, patients, visitors, volunteers, students, contractors and vendors no longer will be required to wear a mask in Asante’s hospitals, medical offices, outpatient facilities and immediate care clinic.
“There is no doubt this news will elicit a mix of emotions,” said Holly Nickerson, vice president of Quality and Patient Safety at Asante. “As we work through these changes, we will be providing support to our employees to help them answer questions they may get from patients.”
Asante’s Quality team is reviewing current masking policies to make appropriate updates, and there may be some areas within our hospitals and clinics where masking is required beyond April 3. “We’re taking a look at all areas of care to make sure best practices are followed for patient safety,” Nickerson said. “Additionally, some employees and patients may choose to continue to wear a mask as a personal preference. We still support masking, hand hygiene and vaccination to prevent the spread of illness.”
As COVID-19 appears to be shifting from pandemic to endemic, Asante will treat the virus as it does influenza and implement restrictions, including masking, whenever cases reach a critical threshold.
The Oregon Health Authority’s end to its masking requirement has no impact on state or federal vaccine mandates for COVID-19, which remain in effect.