Hospitals begin issuing vaccine mandates

Coronavirus

Registered nurse Morgan James loads a syringe with a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at the Blood Bank of Alaska in Anchorage on March 19, 2021. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — One of Louisiana’s largest health care systems is now requiring vaccinations and another hospital system says employees must undergo quarterly training if they do not get the vaccine.

Today, Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System announced to its organization it will require the COVID-19 vaccine for all team members, employed providers, residents, students in clinical rotations, contract staff, and volunteers. Implementation of the requirement will occur over several months and end in December 2021.

FMOLHS is the parent organization of St. Francis Medical Center in Monroe, Our Lady of the Lake in Baton Rouge, Our Lady of Lourdes in Acadiana, Our Lady of the Angels in Bogalusa and St. Dominic Hospital in Jackson, Mississippi.

Richard R. Vath, M.D., President and CEO of FMOLHS said, “We have listened to our team members and physicians as well as tracked the rapid progress of this fourth surge to reach this decision.”

Vath said, “We must act now to protect each other from spreading the delta variant and protect vulnerable patients from exposure. Vaccines are the best means of accomplishing this and more important than ever as the lasting step to end this pandemic. We should not wait any longer. Our health system is not alone in its decision to require a vaccine and joins many other healthcare organizations and expect others to follow.”

A spokesperson for Baton Rouge General said employees will be required “to either be vaccinated or complete a training program.”

Baton Rouge General’s CEO Edgardo Tenreiro said, “As of today, more than 50% of our employees have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine. Beginning in September, we will require all employees to either be vaccinated or complete an education program on a quarterly basis, in addition to continuing to wear masks once the mask mandate is lifted.”

Full statement from FMOLHS:

Today, Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System announced to its organization it will require the Covid-19 vaccine for all team members, employed providers, residents, students in clinical rotations, contract staff, and volunteers. Implementation of the requirement will occur over several months concluding December, 2021.

We have listened to our team members and physicians as well as tracked the rapid progress of this fourth surge to reach this decision. Throughout the pandemic, our teams have risen to the calling to care for those who need them. We continue that now but already we are straining to meet the demand. It is predicted that we have several weeks and possibly months before we reach the peak of this surge. We must act now to protect each other from spreading the delta variant and protect vulnerable patients from exposure. Vaccines are the best means of accomplishing this and more important than ever as the lasting step to end this pandemic. We should not wait any longer. Our health system is not alone in its decision to require a vaccine and joins many other healthcare organizations and expect others to follow. As a healthcare leader we believe we must take this step now for everyone’s safety and long-term community well-being.

There’s never been a more important time to demonstrate, by example, our responsibility to one another and all those we serve.

This memo was sent to Baton Rouge General employees:

Dear team,

Thank you for your hard work and efforts during this fourth wave of COVID. I could not be prouder of the work you’re doing to take care of our patients. As you know, COVID continues to spread rapidly across the community. Admissions at our hospital, across the state and the nation show that the majority of hospitalizations involve unvaccinated people who are younger and healthier than those who were sick in the first three waves. Vaccination and masking indoors are the best defense against the virus, working most effectively together.

As of today, more than 50% of our employees have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine. Beginning in September, we will require all employees to either be vaccinated or complete an education program on a quarterly basis, in addition to continuing to wear masks once the mask mandate is lifted. This program was developed in collaboration with the Mayo Clinic, BRG physicians and infection control leaders and is designed to dispel the myths and misinformation that leads many unvaccinated people to overestimate the risks of the vaccine and underestimate the risks of COVID.

This education will be assigned through HealthStream in the coming week to employees who have not yet begun the process of vaccination or have not uploaded documentation of vaccination obtained elsewhere into Kronos. The deadline for completion of the first education module or vaccination is September 30, 2021.

Thank you again for your hard work and dedication through this latest surge.

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