Emerson Health CEO Update on Masking Changes and Public Health Emergency Ending


Dear Friends,

I hope this message finds you well. The COVID-19 Public Health Emergency that allowed the federal government to give special permissions to hospitals to provide care during the pandemic will end on May 11, 2023. So, as we return to normal operations, please know we are here for you, safe and prepared. Treating COVID is part of our standard operations to treat any respiratory illness, and we see very few cases in the hospital.

Your health is our priority! If you delayed your care during the pandemic, I encourage you to check in with your primary care doctor on what health screenings you need. Your annual wellness check and essential screenings such as mammograms or colonoscopies can help detect cancer or other serious illnesses.

Here are some details about changes related to the COVID Public Health Emergency starting May 12, 2023:

  • Masks: The Massachusetts Department of Public Health will lift the state mandate requiring masking in healthcare settings. Based on the latest transmission data and recommendations from infection prevention specialists at Emerson, please note the following changes to our universal mask policy:
    • Emerson Health will no longer require staff members, patients, or visitors to wear masks in the hospital, physician offices, urgent care, or other facilities.
    • Masks and hand sanitizer will remain accessible at all facilities if you prefer to wear one.
    • We will still require a mask for anyone with flu or respiratory illness symptoms.
    • If you wear your own mask, you must wear an Emerson-issued mask over it in our facilities.
    • Patients may ask staff to wear a mask when entering their room.
  • Prescriptions: During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, patients could receive controlled substances through virtual or telehealth appointments. Starting May 12, 2023, patients on controlled medications may need an in-person appointment within the past two years to continue receiving them. In addition, an in-person appointment may be necessary for patients beginning controlled substances for the first time.
  • COVID Testing: While mandatory coverage for COVID-19 testing will end, insurance companies will still cover the cost of testing ordered by a provider due to exposure or symptoms. However, elective testing, such as for travel purposes, may not be covered by insurance. Insurance companies are also phasing out coverage for at-home COVID-19 tests.
  • COVID-19 Treatment and Therapies: Coverage for COVID-19 treatment remains the same. If you are paying a deductible or cost share for these treatments now, you will continue to pay these costs after the end of the public health emergency.

Our community stepped up in unbelievable ways to support our hospital through the pandemic. Despite the public health emergency's end, hospitals are still significantly impacted by the financial aftermath of COVID. Philanthropy remains critically important to our ongoing operations. Emerson remains committed to your good health. Please help us continue this mission by making a gift today!

Thank you for your continued support and be well!

Christine Schuster, RN, MBA
President and CEO
Emerson Health