When you come to a BJC HealthCare facility, don't forget your mask.

Patients, visitors and staff are now required to wear face masks at BJC HealthCare facilities. If you visit a BJC hospital, doctor’s office or facility, you will need to wear a face mask starting May 6.

Designed to reduce community spread of COVID-19, the new policy follows guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and applies to all patients, visitors and employees who enter BJC buildings.

"This additional measure of caution inside our facilities is an important step, especially as we begin to resume some of our normal operations. Many people already use masks when they need to be in public places where social distancing is difficult to maintain."

Hilary Babcock, director of infection prevention at BJC HealthCare and an infectious disease specialist at Washington University School of Medicine

Children under two, patients who have difficulty breathing, or patients who are unable to remove their own mask without assistance should not wear a mask.

Patients are encouraged to wear their own masks to their appointments. Masks can be homemade, in almost any format or style available. It should cover the nose and mouth and allow the wearer to breathe comfortably and should not have a one-way valve. Patients experiencing respiratory symptoms will be provided a medical-grade isolation mask, as recommended by the CDC.

Visitor restrictions to BJC hospitals of facilities are still in place, but the few visitors who are allowed under exceptions to the policy will also be required to wear a mask.

Caregivers who have direct patient contact are already required to wear medical-grade personal protective equipment (PPE) in accordance with CDC guidelines. Employees who work in offices or who otherwise don’t interact with patients will be required to wear cloth or homemade masks.

There is evidence preventive measures including masking and social distancing have helped flatten the curve of the disease. As hospitals prepare to resume operations these precautions will be critical to maintaining the downward trend of the virus, and keeping our community safe.

How to wear a mask

How NOT to wear a mask

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Yes. BJC facilities require all patients and visitors to wear a face covering when entering the facility, and continue to wear it while in the facility unless instructed otherwise. If you don’t have a mask already, you will be provided with one.

Children under age two, patients who have difficulty breathing, or patients who are unable to remove their own mask without assistance should not wear a mask. Social distancing should be maintained.

The mask is used to reduce community spread of COVID-19. It will protect others from COVID-19 in case you are infected. Many people with COVID-19 have no symptoms. Even if you don’t feel sick, you could spread COVID-19 to others.

Masks can be homemade, in almost any format or style available. It should cover the nose and mouth and allow you to breathe comfortably and should not have a one-way valve. If you are experiencing respiratory symptoms, you will be provided a medical-grade isolation mask.

Yes. As long as the mask covers your nose and mouth, you can wear your own mask.

You are encouraged to wear your own mask when coming to a BJC facility. If you don’t have a mask, you will be provided with one.

Yes, social distancing is also used to reduce spread of COVID-19 and prevent transmission. A face mask is not a substitute for social distancing.

You should wear a mask at all times throughout the building to prevent COVID-19 transmission.

Unless you are bringing your child to been seen by a healthcare provider, children should remain at home if possible. Current visitor policies restrict children under 16 from entering. If your child is with you and is 2 years old or older, they should wear a cloth face mask. The mask should fit over the nose and mouth and allow the child to breathe comfortably. A child wearing a mask should always be monitored; if the child has difficulty breathing with the face covering, it should be removed immediately.

Children under the age of 2 should not wear a mask. Healthcare providers, team members, and visitors in the hospital are required to wear masks to protect those who cannot wear a mask. Frequent hand hygiene and social distancing (>6) feet from others is strongly recommended to protect yourself and your children. An infant in a baby carrier may benefit from having a lightweight cloth or blanket draped over the carrier. An infant should always be monitored, and care taken to ensure the infant can breathe comfortably.

No. Surgical and isolation masks and N95 respirators are in short supply and should be reserved for healthcare workers caring for sick patients. A cloth mask will decrease the risk of spreading COVID-19.

Yes. It is not yet known if a person is immune to getting COVID-19 again after being infected, so a mask will help protect others in case you become infected again.

Yes. Wearing a mask will help protect others in case you became infected since your test or if you are infected and your test did not show COVID-19.

Carbon dioxide is the gas you breathe out from your lungs when you exhale. We all breathe in small amounts of carbon dioxide each time we take a breath, with or without a mask. Masks allow the exhaled carbon dioxide to pass through in the same manner oxygen is pulled in through the mask when we take in a breath. While medical-grade masks and cloth masks allow this gas exchange to occur, plastic and other non-porous materials can prevent this exchange of gases and put the user at risk of breathing difficulties or even suffocation. It is very important that cloth and medical-grade masks be worn, as opposed to masks made of other materials. If at any time your mask becomes difficult to breathe through or noticeably moist, you should remove the mask and obtain a new mask to help ensure good air exchange.

Visitors who are permitted under the exceptions to our visitor restriction policy are required to wear masks. If they do not have a mask, they will be provided one. They will not be permitted into our buildings without a mask.

We certainly respect your rights. It is our responsibility as health care providers to ensure the safest possible environment for all our patients, visitors and staff. This means an environment where important measures are taken to reduce transmission of the virus. There is evidence proving that wearing masks protects against COVID-19 and other disease transmission. Universal masking – or having everyone wear masks in public places – is currently recommended by the CDC, the Department of Health and all major health, science and government authorities. For everybody’s safety, masking is a requirement of all patients, visitors and staff who enter our building. Thank you for understanding, as this was designed with the best interests of our patients, visitors and staff in mind.

Patients should wear face coverings while in the facility until instructed otherwise, which includes when in public areas such as hallways and being transported for tests and therapy. Patients can remove face coverings when alone in their rooms, but should put their mask on when health care workers enter the room, whenever possible. If you do not have your own face covering, you will be given an mask and instructed how to reuse it over the course of the day. If wearing a hospital-provided mask, you should receive a new mask daily. If wearing your own cloth mask and utilizing proper hand hygiene, cloth masks are able to be worn until visibly soiled or damaged. Find complete care recommendations for cloth masks here.