Ozarks Healthcare adapts Staff Masking Policy
As lower trends in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue across Ozarks Healthcare’s region and surrounding states, the health system is adapting the masking policy for staff in non-patient care areas.
Beginning Sunday, May 1, Ozarks Healthcare staff members who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will be able to remove masks when away from patient care areas. Screenings for patients, visitors, and staff will no longer be conducted (including no temperature checks). Any screening questions and temperature checks will be completed in the patient triage process.
While still encouraged by Ozarks Healthcare, masking is not required in public spaces on the health system’s main campus, which include Grill 59, its coffee shop, pharmacies, chapel, and gift shop (opening soon).
“While we know we are not out of the woods yet, adapting our masking policy in response to a lower spread rate of COVID-19 feels like a move in the right direction,” Tom Keller, Ozarks Healthcare President and CEO, said. “Our physicians and Incident Command believe we can safely make this change now. While our hospital is still a busy facility, we have experienced nearly a full week of no COVID-19 hospitalizations, which has been encouraging to our staff.”
In the beginning of the pandemic, Ozarks Healthcare was provided federal support through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds, which allowed patients to avoid the high cost of testing and treatment for a limited period of time. Because that timeframe has now expired, Ozarks Healthcare will now bill patients for COVID-19 testing and treatment for their portion of the balance.
“With progress comes challenges, and this is true with the pandemic,” Keller said. “Organizations who received CARES Act funds were notified there would be limitations, and we have utilized those funds to the best of our ability for our patients. We have a great Patient Financial Services team, and they will be happy to visit with anyone who has questions about COVID-19 testing and treatment charges.”
Ozarks Healthcare’s financial counselors are available by phone at 417-257-6701 for anyone who has questions regarding billing, payment options, or financial assistance.
Ozarks Healthcare continues to advise anyone needing COVID-19 testing to contact your primary care provider or one of Ozarks Healthcare’s walk-in locations. The Ozarks Healthcare Walk-in Clinic in West Plains can be reached by phone at 417-257-5972 and is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The Ozarks Healthcare Walk-in Clinic in Mountain Grove can be reached at 417-926-6563 and is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
COVID-19 vaccines (initial and booster doses) are still being administered on a walk-in basis on Tuesdays only at the Ozarks Healthcare Pharmacy in Parkway Center at 1211 Porter Wagoner Blvd. in West Plains. For more information, call 417-256-1793.
Last month, Ozarks Healthcare relaxed visitor restrictions in response to lower trends in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Patients at Ozarks Healthcare’s hospital and clinics may have any number of visitors during visiting hours, which are from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Individual circumstances and departmental exceptions may apply, which can be found on Ozarks Healthcare’s website at https://www.ozarkshealthcare.com/coronavirus-updates/.
Ozarks Healthcare will continue to share any updates regarding COVID-19 as necessary on its social media channels and website, www.OzarksHealthcare.com.
Ozarks Healthcare is a system of care encompassing primary care and specialty clinics, along with complete rehabilitation, behavioral healthcare, and home health services. While the 114-bed acute care hospital cares for more than 5,400 admissions, the entire health system has more than 364,000 patient visits annually in South Central Missouri and Northern Arkansas. For more information about Ozarks Healthcare, visit www.OzarksHealthcare.com.