Beginning Friday, May 1, anyone entering a Blount Memorial facility or medical office will need to wear a cloth face mask or face covering. This includes the hospital’s main campus, its East Tennessee Medical Group location, and all outpatient physician office and rehabilitation clinics, among others.
“We know that many members of our community have already taken this proactive step as they have had a need to be in public places,” said chief medical officer Dr. Harold Naramore. “Because of this, our requiring a facial covering or cloth mask for entry into our buildings may not be a big adjustment in our community, as for the last several weeks, we have seen most who have had a need to enter our facilities bringing a mask from home.”
Naramore adds that community members are strongly encouraged to bring their own mask, as this will help the hospital continue to maintain adequate personal protective equipment supplies that can be used for its doctors, nurses and other hospital staff who are delivering patient care and support.
This change comes as the hospital begins to reopen some services previously ordered to close in various executive orders made by Governor Bill Lee, including the reinstatement of elective procedures. “We have not made this a formal guideline to entering our facilities up to this point, but as we begin to reopen our community, our state and our nation, we feel it is one more way that we can add an additional layer of protection for our patients and our staff,” he added.
Additionally, hospital officials say the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention helped guide their decision to make this a restriction for entry. “Until we know that social distancing is something that 100 percent of our communities can maintain and fully commit to, CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.”
In addition to requiring mask usage, Naramore continues to focus on the importance of social distancing in our community.
“Social distancing is something that we all need to take seriously in every component of our daily routines – it is our best defense at protecting ourselves and others from continuing the spread of this virus,” he added.
“It does take some getting used to, as, it’s natural in our part of the country to greet people up close, socialize in groups and give hugs to friends and family. But it’s something we just have to do, and we have to commit to it.”