Winneshiek Medical Center transitions to surgical masks for patients and visitors

January 11, 2022

Beginning Wednesday, January 12, 2022, Winneshiek Medical Center is asking all patients and visitors to wear surgical/procedural masks, in place of their cloth mask, while at WMC.  Surgical masks will be provided at each entry point at WMC and in all outreach clinics.  Staff and providers will also transition from cloth to surgical masks, facility wide.

“The Omicron variant is now the dominant strain of COVID-19. This variant spreads and infects people at a much more rapid pace than the Delta variant. The goal in evolving the masking guidance is to do all we can to keep everyone safe while we are still learning about the Omicron variant,” says Thomas Marquardt, D.P.M., chief medical officer.  “Consistent source masking with an appropriate mask, combined with vaccination and booster, will provide excellent protection against COVID-19, including the Omicron variant.”

Surgical masks have a fluid-barrier and offer additional protection against COVID-19 infection.  Cloth masks can be inconsistent in layers, the type of fabric they are made of, and can be of varying quality. Dr. Marquardt says, “High quality cloth masks still offer sufficient protection for everyday life.  However, because we cannot verify the quality of cloth masks, it is safer for our patients, many who are immunocompromised, and our staff, if we provide a standard mask for use on our campus.”

Surgical masks will be available at each patient entrance, and patients will be requested by staff to exchange their cloth mask for a surgical face mask.  Patients may wear the surgical masks over their cloth mask if they prefer for reasons of comfort and fit.  Vented masks, gators and bandanas are not acceptable face coverings and must be replaced with a surgical mask.

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