Many Chicago-area hospital systems have reinstated mask policies due to respiratory viruses and new recommendations from the Illinois Department of Public Health.
At least four health systems, which include more than 20 hospitals, numerous medical offices and urgent care facilities, have implemented partial or full mask mandates, citing increases in cases of COVID-19, the flu and RSV.
The policy changes follow guidance issued by the Illinois Department of Public Health in early December, insisting that masks be worn in healthcare facilities. As a result of the increase in respiratory illnesses, IDPH encouraged health care facilities across the state to implement mask policies in patient care areas, especially when caring for people with weakened immune systems.
“With respiratory viruses on the rise in the state and across the country, IDPH recommends taking precautions to reduce the spread of these viruses and protect patients, staff and visitors,” said IDPH Director Dr Sameer Vohra. Press release. “We are very concerned about health facilities in counties with high respiratory virus transmission and hospitalization rates, and we recommend masks in patient care areas, especially emergency departments and areas that care for immunocompromised patients.”
According to the most recently publicly available data, 10 counties in Illinois were listed as having the highest level of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the past week, which was also the previous week.
In line with IDPH guidelines, the newly formed Endeavor Health, which operates several suburban hospitals, updated its mask policy on Tuesday, December 26. As per the changed policy, both patients and visitors must wear masks. Respiratory symptoms. Patients in some high-risk areas are strongly encouraged to wear masks, and those visiting patients in high-risk areas may also be asked to wear masks, the health organization said.
Endeavor Health consists of Northshore University Health System, Northwest Community Healthcare, Swedish Hospital and Edwards-Elmhurst Health.
The mask requirement went into effect Tuesday at Cook County Health locations, including Stroger Hospital and Provident Hospital, as a result of the increase in respiratory illnesses. Masks are mandatory for all staff, patients and visitors 2 years and older in waiting rooms and exam rooms.
Advocate Health Care, which operates 11 hospitals across the Chicago area, recently implemented a limited visitor policy, a measure to keep patients and staff safe 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 areas. Masks are optional in other areas.
In the southern suburbs, Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox updated its visitor policy on Dec. 20 with “respiratory illnesses on the rise in our community.” According to the hospital, patients who test positive for respiratory symptoms must wear masks in its emergency departments in New Lenox and Homer Glen, as well as urgent care centers in New Lenox and Mogena.
Other local health systems also mandate masks, including Alexian Brothers Hospital in Hoffman Estates and St. Joseph Hospital in Joliet and OSF Health Care, the parent company of Little Company of Mary Medical Center in Evergreen Park.