Tenet Health Central Coast makes changes to mask-wearing policy

Posted at 5:12 PM, Jun 26, 2020

Tenet Health Central Coast recently sent a memo to Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center employees explaining changes they’re making to the use of masks.

According to the memo, as of June 30, N-95 respirators will be prioritized to the operating room. Employees will use the N-95s within their shelf-life but are expected to reuse or extend their use.

That falls under CDC recommendations on optimizing respirators. In the memo, Tenet Health states that in all other areas where N-95s are worn, they will be issuing N-95s that have exceeded their manufacturer-designated shelf-life with continued practice of reuse and extended use.

Under CDC recommendations, the hospital will discard N-95 respirators before they become a significant risk for transmission.

In the memo, Tenet Health explains they have found that the supply chain across the nation is not as reliable as they thought it would be, so these changes are being implemented to help conserve N-95 respirators in anticipation for a surge of COVID-19 cases.

Tenet Health sent a release following the memo, stating:

We are committed to the universal protection and safety of our patients, physicians and staff. We have rigorous infection prevention protocols in place and they are working. We have well-trained and experienced staff. We have also invested in rapid testing capabilities and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). We follow PPE conservation practices as recommended by the CDC and can safely and appropriately care for our patients with the necessary and appropriate PPE, cleaning supplies and medical equipment. Right now the rise in Covid-19 cases we are seeing in the US is a concern. We encourage our community to continue to adhere to safe personal practices, masking, social distancing and frequent hand washing.

Dr. Brian Roberts, owner and Medical Director of Med Stop in San Luis Obispo, says N-95 masks block out 95% of particles released into the air. He says patients suspected to have COVID-19 are recommended to wear standard surgical masks designed to block exhaling, coughing, or sneezing particles.

“They’ll be wearing a standard surgical mask, not an N-95, because the goal there is to stop them from coughing and sneezing out those particles. Almost any face covering will block a significant part of cough, sneeze particles,” Roberts explained.

Tenet Health says they screen their employees at the beginning of each shift.