Reading Hospital, Tower Health Urgent Care facilities and Tower Health Medical Group outpatient offices will once again require face masks.
Tower Health said Monday the policy, effective immediately, will require all employees, medical staff, patients and visitors to wear masks to help protect the community during this time of rising COVID-19 infections.
“This decision is the culmination of a careful review of various factors, most notably the increase in COVID-19 infections among our patients, employees, and the community at large. Patient and staff safety is our top priority, and this important step will help mitigate the spread of the virus,” Tower Health said in a statement.
“All visitors to our facilities will be provided a complimentary mask upon arrival. Ensuring the safety and well-being of everyone within our health care settings is paramount, and we will remain vigilant, continuously assessing the situation. Adjustments to the masking policy will be made as deemed necessary, in alignment with the latest health guidelines and data,” Tower Health said.
“We sincerely thank everyone for their cooperation and understanding as we navigate this situation together, prioritizing the health and safety of our community above all.”
Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN), which said it is monitoring the situation, said face masks are still optional in most of its hospitals and facilities.
“Anyone with a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis must wear a mask and may enter only if seeking care for a severe illness or life-threatening condition,” LVHN said.
That policy also applies to anyone with respiratory viral symptoms and transplant donors and recipients.
The CDC recommends everyone 6 months and older get an updated COVID-19 vaccine to protect against the potentially serious outcomes of COVID-19 illness this fall and winter, LVHN said. Like the recent COVID vaccines, the current vaccine is intended to reduce the risk of severe disease, hospitalization and death following infection with COVID.
LVHN added that its transitional skilled unit (TSU) at Lehigh Valley Hospital-17th Street must follow the rules and regulations established by the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
Therefore, masking requirements will be clearly indicated on stie and will be dependent upon the presence of active COVID-19 cases on the unit, LVHN said.
St. Luke’s University Health network did not respond to a request for an updated policy. There is no change in policy listed on its website.