Why 6 orthopedic practices are, or aren't, requiring masks


Masking is on the rise in the U.S., especially in healthcare settings. Several states and major health systems have begun requiring physicians and visitors to wear masks as cases of COVID-19 and respiratory syncytial virus continue to surge. 

After following CDC guidelines and tracking cases in their areas, here is why six orthopedic and spine practices told Becker's they have or have not reinstated masking rules: 

Brian Gantwerker, MD. The Craniospinal Center of Los Angeles: We are following the department of public health guidelines, which at this time is recommending masking in all healthcare settings. Our patients have been very understanding about it and we have several who do have immune issues, so at this point we are going along with the current recommendations.

Ernest Braxton, MD. Spine and Neurological Surgery Specialist at Vail- (Colo.)Summit Orthopaedics and Neurosurgery: Our practice has not implemented any new mask requirements in any clinical settings aside from the usual expectation of having a mask in the operating room. Fortunately, our community in Vail, Colo., has not seen a surge in high-acuity COVID cases. The only exception to where we may occasionally wear a mask in the clinic is per patient request.

Scott Sigman, MD. Surgeon at OSA Orthopaedics (Chelmsford, Mass.): Not in our office, but our hospital has mandated masks in all patient treatment areas . 

Sean Li, MD. Pain Management Specialist at National Spine & Pain Centers (Shrewsbury, N.J.): We currently have not reimplemented a masking policy. It remains optional for both patients and staff. We monitor state and federal health department recommendations and follow the latest CDC guidelines. 

Shane Nho, MD. Co-Director of the Division of Sports Medicine at Rush Orthopedics (Chicago): Our practice has not mandated mask requirements. Since we are an orthopedic practice, we are not specifically treating patients with respiratory illness. That said, given the current uptick in respiratory illnesses, both healthcare providers and patients are coming into the offices with masks when symptomatic or exposed to someone with symptoms. 

Thomas Schuler, MD. Spine Surgeon and Founder at Virginia Spine Institute (Reston): We have not, since they don't work, are intrusive in interpersonal discourse and disliked by an overwhelming majority of patients and employees.

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