Mask Fatigue – Why We Continue to Mask at SLV Health

Go out into the world and you’ll see very few people who wear a mask to protect themselves from COVID-19. Airlines and mass transit are dropping requirements for masking. Schools are dropping their mandates. But come to work here at any of our facilities at San Luis Valley Health, and we’re all masked. How do we reconcile the difference? Is the pandemic over? Why mask here and not there?

From a personal standpoint, I get it. I have mask fatigue and I’ll wager you do too. I’d love nothing more than to bring our mask use at work to a close. But as I went through my work week, I began to realize the need for continued masking. A good friend in primary care is out after testing positive for COVID-19. Three of our team members in surgery are out and in quarantine after testing positive this week. A pre-op screen in ortho canceled a case due to a positive test result.

The current Omicron variant that is infecting our community is extremely transmissible. We’ve seen a 50% increase in reported cases in Alamosa County in the first week of June from a month ago with 96 positive cases reported. COVID-19 is present and quite active in our community.

AnnaRae

The infection prevention committee and leadership team continue to look for opportunities to decrease mask requirements. For instance, when you are not involved in direct patient care, removing your mask in the privacy of your office is completely appropriate. But based on increasing infection rates, the committee continues to support the use of masks in all direct patient care.

We all know the scenarios that result in COVID-19 spread such as the multi-generational graduation parties, the big church picnic and traveling. I think you’ll agree that it’s time to get back to who we used to be.

Working in a hospital is different than community consensus about travel or a picnic. We can’t make choices for you when you go to the store or when you have family gatherings. But consider our mission statement - to be ‘your trusted partner in health’. Trust is something that we earn through our actions here at work. Hospitals and clinics can be high-risk workplaces. Our goal is to mitigate that risk by choosing safety first. And through our actions, which include masking, hand washing, and staying at home when we're sick, we’ll gain the trust of the community that we serve.