Clarification on Face Shield Guidance

Last week in MyVUMC we published a “You Asked and We Answered” about patients wearing face shields.

Based on further inquiries regarding an allowance of face shields in certain circumstances, we wish to provide further detail and clarifications:

  • This guidance arose due to rare instances where patients had a signed medical attestation from a medical provider noting an inability to wear a mask (e.g., due to severe obstructive lung disease).  This guidance only applies to such patients who have a medical attestation.
  • Face shields have been advocated as an alternative face covering that can prevent spread.  While the CDC does not recommend universal use of face shields in place of masking, they do note in some circumstances these may be used as a face covering:
    • “[W]earing a mask may not be feasible in every situation for some people, for example, people who are deaf or hard of hearing—or those who care for or interact with a person who is hearing impaired” with a note of “considerations for individuals who must wear a face shield instead of a mask."
    • The CDC notes that when face shields alone are used, “face shields that wrap around the side of the wearer’s face and extend below the chin” or a “hooded face shield” should be used.
  • Rather than have patients in our facilities without any face covering, we require those patients with a medical mask exemption to wear a face shield.
  • Similarly, faculty and staff who request an accommodation to the VUMC masking policy, depending on their role, may be approved to wear face shields instead.
  • Visitors who are unable or refuse to wear a mask are not allowed to visit VUMC facilities.  The previous guidance allowing them to visit has been reversed.
  • Faculty and staff remain well protected by continuing to follow the VUMC guidance on the universal use of surgical masks and eye protection for direct patient care:

We apologize for any confusion the earlier communication may have caused.