Recommendations have changed. Beginning Monday, December 21st, employees in all departments must wear a level 3 surgical mask instead of a cloth mask while at work.

Level 3 Surgical Mask

Staff in clinical areas have already been wearing surgical masks, but this change will apply to non-clinical areas and office spaces. Because we cannot always guarantee our staff can safely distance themselves at least 6 feet at all times from co-workers, surgical masks will be required while on campus at any ARHS facility, regardless of your role.

A surgical mask protects the user from larger droplets from others and reduces the transfer of respiratory secretions from the user. Based on guidance from the CDC, AppHealthcare and Toe River Health departments, we know that surgical masks have proven to provide better protection for the user and those they encounter.

Employees may continue to wear fabric masks when reporting to work. However, all employees should obtain a hospital-approved surgical mask as soon as they reach their work area/department.


What is a level 3 surgical mask?

A surgical mask is a loose-fitting disposable mask that protects the wearer’s nose and mouth from contact droplets, splashes and sprays that may contain germs. A surgical mask also filters large particles in the air and may protect others by reducing exposure to the saliva and respiratory secretions of the mask wearer.


How to request level 3 surgical masks for your department/staff?

Materials Management currently stocks level 3 masks in all inpatient and outpatient clinical areas and have sent supplies to non-clinical areas. If you need masks in your department, please contact Materials Management at 828-262-4159.


How long can I wear a level 3 surgical mask?

Based on our current supply of masks, we recommend that employees in use their level 3 surgical mask for multiple days as long as it remains clean. Employees should replace masks if they become visibly soiled and/or when the integrity of the mask has been torn, degraded or compromised.


May I purchase level 3 masks online?

ARHS cannot certify that masks purchased online are actually level 3 masks. Employees must utilize surgical masks obtained from Materials Management only.


Do I need to wear eye protection as well?

Anyone involved in direct patient care must wear appropriate PPE, including eye protection.
Staff interacting with patients/visitors from behind a plexiglass barrier are not required to wear eye protection.
Staff interacting with patients/visitors without a plexiglass barrier or through a slide window must wear eye protection.
Fact Sheet: Eye protection for COVID-19



Email Mike Rawls ( or Kathy Miller ( in Materials Management or call 828-262-4159.

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