Why We're Still Masking
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/ Categories: WELLNESS, 2022

Why We're Still Masking

Based on our COVID-19 Community Level, you might decide to leave your mask behind when socializing with friends or going out to pick up groceries. If our COVID Community Level is green, that is a perfectly reasonable course of action. If you are vaccinated and have low-risk of a serious case of COVID, you might decide to forego a mask in public even when our community level is yellow. You could do so without greatly increasing your risk of contracting COVID. So why are we continuing to wear masks in healthcare settings and asking you to wear them while receiving care or visiting?

To protect yourself. As a hospital, we are a magnet for sick people. We do everything we can to prevent germs from spreading from patient to patient. In addition to intense cleaning and negative pressure in many of the busiest areas, we ask everyone to wear masks. That brings your chance of catching anything—from the common cold to COVID—way down. 

To protect those who are vulnerable. Not only are there people who have infectious diseases coming to the hospital, there are people who have diseases that put them at far higher risk of catching a serious case of COVID. They might have cancer or diabetes or an immune condition. Wearing a mask helps prevent germs from reaching them and causing serious harm. 

To protect our staff. Our staff members work so hard and encounter lots of sick people. We care about our staff members, and we don’t want them or their families to get sick. It causes a lot of disruptions in their families, plus, when staff members get a respiratory infection and can't come to work, care slows down. Your continuing to wear your mask makes care faster and more efficient for everyone.

Thank you for continuing to come to your appointments or to visit loved ones prepared with a mask. It may not seem necessary, but it is truly doing good for yourself, our other patients, and our teams of healthcare providers.

Donna Barron, RN, is the infection preventionist at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, part of Southwestern Vermont Health Care, in Bennington.

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