The nationwide COVID-19 Public Health Emergency ended yesterday, May 11, 2023. This means that starting today, May 12, Fenway Health is updating many of the policies we put in place during the pandemic. We remain committed to the health and safety of our patients and staff, and this message explains these changes across all Fenway Health facilities.
Masks have been important during the pandemic and will continue to have a role. However, availability of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, as well as lower levels of infections in the community, make it possible to lift our masking requirement. Starting May 12, 2023, in accordance with Department of Public Health and CDC guidelines, Fenway Health will end universal masking at all our sites. We are committed to monitoring conditions in the community, including local infection rates, and will update our masking policy based on levels of infection if needed.
Patients will still need to wear a mask if they:
- Have a fever or other flu-like symptoms
- Have a known COVID-19 infection and are in their isolation period
- Have a known exposure to COVID-19 within the last 10 days
Additionally, staff will continue to self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 and follow current CDC guidance regarding ability to work. Any staff who are experiencing the above symptoms will mask while at work.
Optional masking is supported at Fenway Health, and surgical masks will continue to be available to those who choose to wear a mask. Additionally, any patient may ask that Fenway staff working in close proximity with them also wear a mask.
We ask that all patients and staff respect the choice of anyone in our community to continue to mask.
Physical distancing is no longer required.
During the pandemic, we have been actively screening patients for COVID-19 symptoms before visits. Starting May 12, 2023, we will no longer ask patients and visitors screening questions before visits. Please note symptom screening may continue via MyChart for some time.
To keep our patients and staff safe, please contact your care team before an in-person visit if:
You develop any of the following symptoms:
- Fever or chills
- Cough, congestion, or runny nose
- Nausea, Vomiting or diarrhea
- New skin rash (with fever)
OR you are diagnosed with or exposed to COVID-19 within 10 days of an appointment.
Testing, Vaccine, and Treatment Coverage Changes
During the Public Health Emergency, COVID-19 tests, vaccinations, and some treatments were available at no cost to most people. It is a good idea to contact your health plan to find out what will be changing. Your out-of-pocket costs related to COVID-19 will vary depending on your health plan coverage.
- Medicare, MassHealth, and most commercial insurances, will continue to cover vaccination but you may be responsible for co-payments
- Diagnostic testing for patients who are symptomatic is expected to be covered by most insurance plans, though may have a co-payment.
- Elective testing (example, for travel, school, or employment) which is not medically necessary will likely not be covered by insurers.
- Treatment for COVID-19 infection will be like any other illness, and subject to copayments and deductibles per your insurance plan.
During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, patients have been able to get controlled substances during a virtual or telehealth visit. Examples of controlled substances include:
- Opioid pain medications (for example: oxycodone)
- Anxiety medications (for example: clonazepam)
- Sleep medications (for example: zolpidem)
- Gender-Affirming Medications (for example: testosterone)
- Other medications (for example: phentermine for weight loss)
Starting on May 12, if you take these medications regularly, you may need to have had an in-person visit within the last 2 years to continue to get them. Your care team will contact you if you need an in-person visit to renew your medications.
Also starting May 12, patients may need to see their provider in-person before starting controlled substances for the first time. These changes are still being finalized. Your care team will let you know the current guidance if you are starting these medications.
We will continue to monitor COVID-19 activity and the recommendations of the CDC and Massachusetts Department of Public health. As we do that, we commit to updating our rules as needed to keep our staff and patients safe. We encourage everyone to observe ongoing infection prevention measures such as frequent hand-washing, COVID-19 vaccination, staying home when you are ill, and getting tested when needed.
We thank you for all of your help keeping other patients, our staff, and the community safe during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.