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Medical Center Hospital releases statement on photo showing patient wearing plastic drape

Published: Oct. 14, 2021 at 2:55 PM CDT
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ODESSA, Texas (KOSA) - Medical Center Hospital is addressing a photo being shared on social media of a patient wearing a plastic drape over their head.

In a statement, MCH says patients must be masked at all times. However, plastic drapes and coverings for COVID-19 patients can also be used as they are being moved through areas including hallways and elevators.

Circumstances where the drapes are used include anytime a patient refuses to wear a mask or keep it on, is unable to tolerate a mask or has an aerosol-generating procedure.

The hospital states that the patient and guardian have the right to refuse the form of protection.

MCH CEO and President Russell Tippin says that hospital staff have received threats because of the photo. Some threats even involve bombing the hospital. The Ector County Hospital District’s Police Department is investigating the threats. MCH has also contacted the FBI.

You can read the full statement below:

Medical Center Hospital is aware of a photo of a COVID patient being transported within the hospital showing a plastic drape over the patient’s head and upper torso. MCH has spoken with the mother of the patient and discussed the patient’s treatment during her extended stay, including the use of the patient drape.

“We were pleased to have the mother reach out to us to address the situation,” said Russell Tippin, CEO and President, Medical Center Health System. “Our top priority will always be the safety and care of our patients. We are always willing to listen to our patient’s experiences to better communicate with them to make sure they are comfortable.”

Per MCH policy and CDC guidelines, a patient must wear a mask at all times, and this is our preferred method of protection for patients within the hospital. In certain circumstances, the use of a clear, plastic drape or covering for COVID patients during transport is used to prevent the virus from airborne spread to staff and other patients, especially in tight areas such as hallways and elevators. Those circumstances include if the patient refuses to wear a mask or keep it on, is unable to tolerate a mask or has an aerosol-generating procedure. A draped patient is never left unattended and is already on some form of oxygen or breathing assistance. As with any other medical procedure, the patient and/or guardian has the right to refuse the form of protection.

Due to the viral nature of this photo, our hospital and staff have received numerous threatening phone calls, including threats on their lives, their family’s lives and even threats of bombing the hospital. The Ector County Hospital District Police Department is investigating these threats, and the FBI has been contacted.

“Rest assured, we take all of these threats seriously and are taking appropriate action,” said Russell Tippin. “Under no circumstances will MCH tolerate such threats to staff members, their families or anyone associated with the health system. Our staff have been true heroes for the past 19 months in battling this pandemic and do not deserve the vicious threats spewed by these hateful individuals.”

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