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Samaritan Announces Mask-Optional Health System for Most Patients, Visitors, and Staff

Published on: May 5, 2023

Watertown, NY – On May 5, 2023, the majority of Samaritan facilities will now be mask-optional for all staff, patients, and visitors under certain criteria. This decision comes after closely watching Community Transmission levels which remain at moderate, COVID hospitalization and infection rates declining, flu rates dropping, as well as more indicators.  Samaritan now safely offers a mask-optional environment in many areas, however if any of these metrics have an uptick, we could return to wearing facemasks. 

The three major exceptions to this change that will remain mask-required for all staff, patients/residents and visitors are:

  • The Emergency Department, because of the high-risk involved with the patients needing care and maintaining crucial source control. 
  • The Walker Center for Cancer Care, because of the weakened immune systems of the patients served.
  • The Samaritan Keep Home and Summit Village, because they are regulated under different guidelines.  

Patients, visitors and/or healthcare personnel are to follow masking practices per unit/department when specifically indicated.

Any patient in any area who has signs or symptoms of respiratory illness or COVID-19 will be asked to wear a facemask as per Samaritan’s source control policy.

The public does not need to be masked in most Samaritan areas. Visitors who are not feeling well or have been in contact with anyone who tested positive for COVID-19 are encouraged to stay home and cannot visit patients or accompany patients to appointments.

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