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San Juan Regional Medical Center updates face mask policy for patients, visitors

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times
San Juan Regional Medical Center released on July 24 an update to its universal mask policy as part of the ongoing response to the coronavirus.

FARMINGTON — San Juan Regional Medical Center is requiring all individuals to wear masks when at the hospital or any of the San Juan Health Partners clinics.

The medical center announced the update and clarification to its universal mask policy on July 24, citing the need to protect patients, visitors and staff as well as complying with Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's order to wear face masks in public.

"This policy assists the staff with educating visitors and patients and facilitates public understanding of the importance of masking. It includes specific guidelines for people who may refuse to wear masks. After COVID-19 hit, masks were required at SJRMC, but given recent discussions across the country, we wanted to be clear about our policies," hospital spokeswoman Laura Werbner said.

According to the release, if the person does not have a mask to wear, one will be provided.

"If a visitor refuses to wear a mask, they will not be allowed to enter the facility," the release states.

The release explains that patients who refuse to wear a mask when coming to the hospital for outpatient procedures or for appointments at the clinics will be instructed to return to their vehicles and services will be rescheduled.

Treatment will not be denied to patients who refuse to wear a mask when they arrive to the emergency room.

"However, it will be assumed that the patient may have COVID-19 and if admitted, they will be placed on a COVID floor where no visitors are allowed," the release states.

The hospital has an exception for patients who have medical conditions that do not allow them to wear masks and they must show documentation of such conditions.

"This documentation will be reviewed at the point of service to determine how to best provide safe care," the release states then adds that services might be accessible through telemedicine services.

Visitors with medical exceptions for wearing masks will not be allowed inside the hospital and are encouraged to use alternative methods to communicate with patients, such as video chat.

The hospital has an e-card service available at www.sanjuanregional.com/egreeting/.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at nsmith@daily-times.com.

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