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Coronavirus likely to change health care outlook for long term, Christus St. Vincent official says | Local News

Virus masks could become part of winter clothing in the long term, says an expert at the Christ St. Vincent Regional Medical Center.

James Marx, managing director for quality and performance management in the hospital, said in a joint presentation that routine coronavirus booster vaccination is also likely if variants continue to emerge.

Marx’s comments reflect the possibility that the coronavirus will change how we deal with virus seasons.

“I think that during the respiratory virus season we will continue to wear masks all winter,” Marx said in a September video designed to answer questions from readers of The New Mexican. Masks could become an annual event in winter, especially when people are in confined spaces, said Marx, who has a PhD and 42 years of experience as a registered nurse.

While many people wore masks last winter, Marx said doctors and scientists saw rates of the flu and RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, were falling due to coronavirus precautions.

Marx, Christ’s Medical Quality Director, Dr. Theresa Ronan, and the chief physician Dr. David Gonzales spoke in the video. Some of their thoughts echo the recent statements made by Dr. David Scrase, who heads the state’s human resources and health departments. Scrase said masks would likely be in use for years.

Marx said there will likely be regular booster vaccinations for the coronavirus, as will annual booster vaccinations for the flu.

The three speakers emphasized the importance of a full vaccination against COVID-19 and provided figures that reflect the effectiveness of the vaccinations. Ronan said that of 22 Christ St. Vincent patients who were in intensive care from March through much of September, 19 were unvaccinated, or 86 percent.

Gonzales encouraged patients to receive the flu shot and the coronavirus vaccination schedule.

“You don’t want to have both viruses at the same time,” he said.

• Ronan said 229 of 2,400 Christ St. Vincent workers contracted the coronavirus, but 215 of those cases were acquired outside of the workplace. Almost all 229 recovered and returned to work, she said.

• Gonzales said he believed vacation travel was okay. But he said vacationers should wear masks, keep their distance from others, and get tested for the disease if necessary.

• Marx said medical experts learned temperature screening to determine if one had coronavirus has proven ineffective as many who become infected with the disease do not have a temperature.

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