Bothwell drops mask requirement for patients and visitors

Like many health centers across the nation, Bothwell Regional Health Center has seen an increase in incidents of aggressive behavior in its hospital and clinics and some people avoiding care due in part to mask requirements.

Beginning Sept. 22, Bothwell will encourage patients and visitors to wear masks, yet will not require their use in the hospital in clinics unless someone is known to have Covid-19 or influenza, has symptoms of illness such as fever or coughing, or are in a facility for treatment or testing for Covid-19, influenza or another respiratory illness.

All hospital and clinic employees, physicians, vendors and affiliates are still required to wear a mask regardless of vaccination status when directly providing or engaging in patient care.

Bothwell CEO Lori Wightman said the decision to drop the mask requirement for patients and visitors was not made lightly but is in the interest of keeping the health center’s 900-plus employees safe and providing an environment where people don’t delay or avoid care.

“The community level of Covid-19 in the areas we serve is low based on hospitalizations,” Wightman said. “While we still have people hospitalized regularly and Covid is still circulating in the community, our greater issue is removing a barrier that is causing people to not seek care or to take their frustrations out on our hospital and clinic employees.”

Bothwell recently expanded its security services to have staff on-site at its Healing Arts and Diagnostic centers at 10th and Winchester due to an increase in patient and visitor issues, and the Bothwell Foundation is raising funds to purchase a K9 security officer.

When visiting patients who are actively ill with Covid-19, influenza or other respiratory illnesses, visitors and caregivers will be asked to wear additional personal protective equipment including masks, gowns or eye goggles. Caregivers and visitors should follow the requirements posted on patient doors.

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