The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, August 11, 2021 1:00 am

Lutheran, Parkview reinstate masks-for-all inside facilities


Parkview Health and Lutheran Health Network facilities now have face mask mandates in place for staff members and visitors to combat a resurgence of COVID-19.

Both health systems, however, have stopped short of mandating vaccinations for employees.

Parkview on Monday announced it was reminding the public of its mandatory mask rule at all locations, including hospitals and Parkview Physicians Group offices.

Spokeswoman Tami Brigle said in an email Tuesday that universal masking has been in place since last year in Parkview hospitals. But this summer, the requirement was briefly lifted for vaccinated people in some physician groups, she said.

“All facilities have returned to this requirement, based on the new CDC guidelines,” she said.

She was referring to the July 27 CDC recommendation that masks be worn indoors in public places by vaccinated and unvaccinated people over age 2 in areas of high or significant virus transmission, including Allen County and most counties in northeast Indiana.

Visitors and staff continue to be required to wear masks inside Lutheran Health Network hospitals and clinics.

“We also remain consistent in following CDC guidelines which require masking of all providers and individuals in a health-care setting,” spokeswoman Joy Lohse said in a statement.

More than half of Lutheran staff has been vaccinated, she said, but the health system is following CDC guidance, which does not mandate vaccination.

“We continue to educate our employees and encourage vaccination to fight against COVID 19,” Lohse said.

Parkview Health “is strongly encouraging, but not requiring, COVID-19 vaccination for our co-workers. We continue to closely monitor COVID-19 activity in our region and evaluate our response,” Brigle said.

IU Health announced July 27 it was requiring masks indoors regardless of vaccination status for all 36,000 staff members. It also has mandated most be fully vaccinated by Sept. 1, an action that some employees have protested.

Ascension St. Vincent, Franciscan Health and Eskenazi Health in Indianapolis have put COVID-19 vaccine requirements in place for staff in recent weeks, with differing  deadlines for presenting proof of vaccination.

The hospitals and health systems are joining a growing nationwide trend of requiring vaccinations, according to news reports.

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