Fort Walton Beach Medical Center (FWBMC) and Twin Cities Hospital (TCH) announced today that all staff and providers in all patient care areas will now wear masks, expanding their use beyond suspected or positive COVID cases. Masks will be optional only for staff in non-patient care areas who can consistently maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet aside from brief interactions with colleagues.
“Our top priority is protecting our patients, clinicians, nurses, and colleagues so we can best serve our communities through the duration of this pandemic,” said Mitch Mongell, CEO of FWBMC. “These new guidelines apply to all areas of our patient care facilities, not just those where suspected COVID or COVID-positive patients are being treated. We are taking this step now because of evidence we see that, while social distancing is a key strategy for interrupting the spread of coronavirus, it is difficult to maintain in the busy patient care environment. Also, HCA Healthcare’s latest analysis of our ability to meet the demand for additional use of masks gives us confidence that our colleagues in supply chain are prepared to address our needs. Even though HCA Healthcare currently has adequate supplies of personal protective equipment, we will continue to take steps to conserve PPE, including reuse and reprocessing of PPE where appropriate.”
Fort Walton Beach Medical Center and Twin Cities Hospital has deployed guidance for the three types of masks, depending on the clinical role, the type of care the patient is receiving, and the level of suspicion for infection with COVID.
• Level I “procedure” masks for all staff not needing higher levels of protection. These masks can also be used for caring for suspected or confirmed COVID patients when paired with a full face shield.
• Level 3 masks for additional protection from fluids and droplets, and for use by staff caring directly for suspected COVID or COVID positive patients, except when performing aerosolized procedures.
• N-95 respirators for staff caring for suspected COVID or COVID positive patients, and are the only mask that should be used during aerosolizing procedures, such as intubation, nebulization, bronchoscopy, or suctioning.
As this crisis evolves, Fort Walton Beach Medical Center and Twin Cities Hospital and HCA Healthcare will continue to evolve to meet the challenges. Since January, Fort Walton Beach Medical Center and Twin Cities Hospital has continued to monitored PPE usage, carefully analyzing and implementing the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration for best PPE practices. HCA Healthcare’s supply chain has continually worked with epidemiologists and data scientists to track usage and anticipated demand so we can allocate our supplies appropriately, even as these professionals work around the clock to safeguard existing supplies and secure additional shipments. This month, Fort Walton Beach Medical Center and Twin Cities Hospital also appointed a PPE czar to manage supplies to prepare for potential surge needs.
“We are grateful to our dedicated colleagues who have stepped up, as they always do, to support our community when it is needed most,” Dave Whalen, CEO of Twin Cities Hospital said. “We are appreciative of the efforts of professionals at all levels of our hospital and HCA Healthcare to ensure Fort Walton Beach Medical Center and Twin Cities Hospital is able to meet this challenge head on while continuing to keep the safety of our colleagues, patients and the community at large our top priority.”