Effective Friday, September 30, Northeast Georgia Health System (NGHS) is relaxing its mask requirements to no longer require employees, patients and visitors who are fully vaccinated to wear a mask. In accordance with guidelines from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, fully vaccinated is defined as having received two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine or one dose of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine.
“We’re really happy to take this step, but it’s not to say that we’re completely out of the woods,” said John Delzell, MD, incident commander for NGHS’ COVID-19 response. “Safety is our top priority, so we may require universal masking for employees and visitors again if our area’s COVID-19 transmission levels increase in the future.”
This means fully vaccinated patients, visitors and employees are no longer required to wear masks while on Northeast Georgia Medical Center hospital campuses, in Northeast Georgia Physicians Group offices, in Georgia Heart Institute offices or at most other NGHS locations across the region. Masks are still required for all patients, visitors and employees in NGHS’ long-term care facilities, called New Horizons; for employees caring for patients suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19; and for anyone who is symptomatic, inside the 10-day isolation window or has had close contact or exposure to someone with COVID-19.
“We’ve come a long way in knowing how to handle this virus,” Dr. Delzell said. “We’re pleased to make this change and get back to some sense of normalcy around the hospital. We know this is a step our community and our employees have been looking forward to for quite a while.”
In addition to masks not being required, visitation policies have also been updated at NGHS facilities. Waiting rooms at all locations are now fully open, although social distancing is still encouraged when possible.
Visit www.nghs.com/covid-19 to see all of the latest information and policies on COVID-19, including where you can get vaccinated.
About Northeast Georgia Health System
Northeast Georgia Health System (NGHS) is a non-profit on a mission of improving the health of our community in all we do. Our team cares for more than 1 million people across the region through four hospitals and a variety of outpatient locations. Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC) has campuses in Gainesville, Braselton, Winder and Dahlonega – with a total of more than 750 beds and more than 1,200 medical staff members representing more than 60 specialties. Learn more at www.nghs.com.