Effective April 3rd the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) has lifted the mandatory masking requirement for healthcare settings, but that does not mean healthcare providers and clinics have to stop using them.
As OHA stated, “Those at high risk of disease or people who live with people at higher risk should still consider wearing masks in healthcare or any settings to protect themselves and those around them. Others may choose to wear masks if it makes them feel more comfortable in those settings.”
OHA also noted that some healthcare facilities may continue to require masks even after the mandate is lifted. In fact, OHSU still strongly recommends mask wearing throughout its healthcare system and requires it in many of its settings.
After much thought and deliberation, I have decided to keep the masking requirement in place for my clinic and patients moving forward.
The reasons are as follows:
- My clinic is small and without the benefit of a high-end, expensive ventilation system that larger clinics and hospitals have access to.
- COVID-19 has not been eradicated. It continues to circulate, evolve and mutate. We are in a far better place than we were 3 years ago, but this is not over. I still get cancellations weekly from patients contracting COVID or other viruses.
- COVID-19 is not the common cold for many people with compromised health and immunity, and for some it can have long lasting, life changing and debilitating symptoms.
- I need to protect my patients. I have many patients who are vulnerable, those who are immunocompromised and those living with comorbidities, the two main groups for whom getting COVID can lead to serious health outcomes:
- Immunocompromised – Some people in this group are non-responders to the vaccine/boosters. And for some who do initially respond to the vaccines, because of their impaired immune function, protection wanes very quickly.
- Older patients with comorbidities – Comorbidity is the simultaneous presence of more than one underlying health condition. People 65 and older with underlying health conditions comprise the largest group at risk for serious complications from contracting COVID-19.
- I also have patients living with Long COVID, and I have seen first-hand how this can have a profoundly negative long-term impact on their lives.
- I need to protect myself, as I am older with comorbidities.
Prevention is Key
Prevention of illness is key for these vulnerable groups, and masks help!! Not just with COVID-19, but with all infectious illnesses that have been circulating.
My desire is to continue to offer a safe place to receive health care, and to prevent the spread of any infectious pathogen. I want my patients to feel utterly safe and cared for.