Surgical masks required for visitors due to recent surge in infections

In response to the continuing widespread COVID activity in the region, the Lake Region Healthcare enterprise (which includes all Lake Region Healthcare (LRH), Prairie Ridge Healthcare (PRH) and Mill Street Residence sites) is implementing new visitor and masking policies.  

“With prevalent community spread and the local positivity rate at an all-time high, we need to do what we can to protect staff and vulnerable patients by restricting the number of people in our facilities,” said LRH Chief Nursing Officer, Roberta Young. 

The number of staff out with COVID has proven a challenge to maintaining workforce, with over 50 people out recently. 

“We are routinely limiting hours in some services areas such our laboratory and our foodservices due to workforce shortages. We also limit the number of hospital beds available and daily plan for the number of elective surgeries we will be able to support based on available staff and hospital beds,” said Chief Nursing Officer, Roberta Young.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Naomi Schmid, added that the changes to policy are another call to action on behalf of healthcare workers. 

“Almost two years into this, the warnings and pleas we’ve sent out on behalf of your healthcare teams continue. We see every day the potential havoc this virus can create,” Schmid said. 

While healthcare workers have experienced the impacts of COVID for months and months, she says for some people, this latest surge is finally causing COVID to hit home. 

“It’s becoming real and personal to so many more people right now, and in many instances very tragic. We care so much about the friends and family members in our community that we take care of, and while it is the same message we’ve shared all along, we can’t emphasize enough how important it is to be vigilant right now,” said Schmid.

Young explained that while the visitor restrictions are an important mitigation strategy, they also work with the family and friends who are caregivers and an important piece of the healthcare journey. 

“We also understand how important it is to have good communication with families and we know patients benefit in their healing journey by having loved ones present. So we also commit to working with families to balance both priorities as we work through this stage of really active virus spread,” she added.

Also included in the latest policy is a requirement for surgical masks to be worn by everyone entering the healthcare facilities. One will be provided to wear over or in place of any cloth masks people are wearing. 

“It’s also really important for people to leave these masks on at all times while they’re here, even when alone in an exam room, for example.” Young added.  

The new guidelines are available online at 

“In all instances, we will work with families facing unique individual and end-of-life circumstances,” Young said. 

In those instances, a nurse or care team member can be asked to assist with special requests.