Northeast Georgia Health System is relaxing its mask requirements to no longer require employees, patients and visitors who are fully vaccinated to wear a mask. As defined by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, fully vaccinated is defined as having received two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine or one dose of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine.
“We’re really happy to take this step, but it’s not to say that we’re completely out of the woods,” says Dr. John Delzell, incident commander for NGHS’ COVID-19 response. “Safety is our top priority, so we may require universal masking for employees and visitors again if our area’s COVID-19 transmission levels increase in the future.”
This change, which went into effect September 30, means fully vaccinated patients, visitors and employees are no longer required to wear masks while on Northeast Georgia Medical Center hospital campuses, in Northeast Georgia Physicians Group offices, in Georgia Heart Institute offices, or at most other NGHS locations across the region.
Masks are still required for all patients, visitors and employees in NGHS’ long-term care facilities, called New Horizons; for employees caring for patients suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19; and for anyone who is symptomatic, inside the 10-day isolation window or has had close contact or exposure to someone with COVID-19.
“We’ve come a long way in knowing how to handle this virus,” Dr. Delzell says. “We’re pleased to make this change and get back to some sense of normalcy around the hospital. We know this is a step our community and our employees have been looking forward to for quite a while.”
In addition to lifting its mask requirement, Northeast Georgia Health System has also updated its visitation policies. The health system has fully opened its waiting rooms at all locations. Social distancing is still encouraged when possible.
Visit nghs.com/covid-19 to see all of the latest information and policies on COVID-19, including where you can get vaccinated.