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Mask requirement lifted at St. Vincent Healthcare

Posted at 3:34 PM, Mar 22, 2023

BILLINGS - Almost exactly three years after the start of COVID and masks are no longer required at St. Vincent Healthcare.

The new policy started last Wednesday, March 15.

"We still respect people's choices and want to make sure that we honor when people ask for us caregivers to wear masks or in specific situations," said Melissa Filter, St. Vincent vice-president and chief nursing officer.

St. Vincent had required masks since March of 2020.

Filter said COVID-19 numbers have come down enough to give patients that option.

According to the Montana Department Of Public Health & Human Services, in January of last year, it peaked at about 3,000 cases a day.

But now it's down significantly at just under 100 cases, and in Yellowstone County this past week, right around 16 a day.

"There are a lot of studies out there now tracking and trending," Filter said. "And we rely on our partners at the CDC and our public health entities to make sure that word in compliance."

Masks will still be necessary in some parts of the hospital.

"There are times where it's appropriate," she said. "So in the emergency room, in an infectious area, and an (operating room), anywhere there's neutropenic precautions, so someone who has high risk or any kind of respiratory condition, we'll still wear masks then."

The mask policy applies to all Intermountain Healthcarefacilities in Montana, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Idaho, Arizona, and Kansas.

"It's the same requirements across the board," Filter said.

Q2 could not find anyone outside St. Vincent on Wednesday that would do an interview.

But some said lifting the requirement is good and some are okay either way.

And on our Facebook page, some of the viewers favor not having to wear masks.

While there are no numbers to measure the success, Filter says masks have helped.

"It really did make a difference that they were willing to be compliant with our requirement," Filter said.

Riverstone Health will lift its mask requirement on Monday at its clinics in Billings, Bridger, Joliet, and Worden.