Munson Healthcare Relaxes Masking, Visitation Policies

04.13.2023

Munson Healthcare (MHC) will join nine other health systems across the state in relaxing its masking and visitation policies effective Friday, April 14. Universal masking will no longer be required for everyone in Munson Healthcare hospitals and clinics.

Munson Healthcare Chief Safety and Quality Officer Joe Santangelo, M.D. said the health system has reviewed COVID-19 data thoroughly both within Munson Healthcare and across the state with other healthcare systems.

“The availability of effective vaccines and therapeutics have reduced hospitalizations and the rate of disease has dramatically decreased despite the relaxation of masking in non-healthcare locations,” he said. “We agree with the many other healthcare systems in Michigan that based on current COVID-19 data, prevalence and severity, it is no longer necessary for our healthcare team, patients, and visitors to only interact while masked.”

While masking at Munson Healthcare hospitals and clinics will be optional for most patients and visitors, those who are more comfortable masking may continue to do so and staff at Munson Healthcare facilities and clinics are happy to support that choice. If requested, staff will also use masks around those patients.

Because research shows masking does prevent disease spread, Munson Healthcare will still require staff, patients, and visitors to mask if they have respiratory symptoms such as fever, cough, runny nose, or sore throat.

In addition to masking changes, Munson Healthcare visitor policies will reflect the health system’s return to pandemic level “green.” For more details on the visitor policies, go to the health system’s website at munsonhealthcare.org.

“Patients who test positive for COVID-19 will continue to have the same precautions in place as those with any other contagious respiratory disease such as flu or RSV,” Dr. Santangelo said. 
These changes do not apply to Munson Healthcare long-term care and skilled nursing facilities which will continue to follow the regulations specific to those types of facilities, including masking where required.

Munson Healthcare clinical leaders will continue to watch pandemic trends. Dr. Santangelo said the health system may need to return to universal masking if the incidence of COVID-19 increases, if the virus becomes more virulent, or if there are other clinical changes that make a return to masking safer for patients and staff.

Health systems joining Munson Healthcare to announce changes over the next few weeks include Bronson Healthcare, Corewell Health, Detroit Medical Center, Henry Ford Health, McLaren Healthcare, Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services, and Trinity Health. Michigan Medicine updated its masking policies on March 27.