Hospital executives have no regrets about COVID-19 vaccination requirements

Employee engagement

The South Carolina Medical University’s 11 hospital system also informed staff in April that vaccinations were approaching and set a June 15 deadline. Although nearly 70% of MUSC employees had been immunized by the end of February, the nonprofit’s vaccination rate had declined. According to Dr. Patrick Cowley, CEO of the Academic Medical Center, the obvious solution was to get a mandate when leaders were convinced that it passed a legitimate review.

“At the management level, there is a lot of concern – a lot of concern – that if we give authorization, it will lead to staff turnover,” Cowley said. “I myself have never fully believed that this would be a problem for two reasons. First, we will formulate a security concept. And I just found it hard to believe that someone would leave our organization because we were doing something safer. … So that was the first. The second reason is that we have pretty good employee engagement rates. ”

By the deadline, Cowley said 97% of MUSC employees were following the rules, but 178 of the 17,000 employees were not. In the end, the health care system lost just four employees – 0.0002% of the workforce – all of which also violated other company policies, he said. About 3000 workers eligible for release from the demand, mainly because they contracted COVID-19 and had some level of natural immunity.

The Medical University of South Carolina has simplified its path to the mandate by trying to win over skeptical staff and get them to volunteer injections first, similar to the approaches taken by the Houston Methodist and Inova Health System. The vaccination mandate came in four phases: new employees, then managers, then almost all other employees, followed by contractors and other miscellaneous workers.

What’s more, health officials have launched a multi-faceted advocacy campaign to allay doubts about vaccines, Cowley said. According to him, the main idea was that MUSC and its specialists are responsible for ensuring security.

“We made it very personal. So we got to the point where I was sending emails that came straight from me to employees to get vaccinated. So we communicated very actively internally with the safety message, ”Cowley said.

At Inova Health System, a not-for-profit network of six hospitals, the employee vaccination program is still ongoing with an end date of October 1. According to Jones, 96% of the 19,000 employees were compliant at the end of August. According to him, Inova expects to lose only a few dozen employees at the end of the term.

“You have to go back to math,” Jones said. “The vast majority of people working in the health sector have already been vaccinated. They kind of sent a signal that they want to work in a place where people around them are vaccinated. “

According to Jones, Inova was successful because it focused on persuasion and messaging security. The health care system ran numerous town halls and produced informational videos in multiple languages ​​reflecting the racial and ethnic diversity of her home in northern Virginia.

Cowley and other notable collaborators, including cardiologist and former country music performer Dr. Cleve Franciswent to hospitals to answer workers’ questions. According to him, Cowley received his own vaccination along with Francis, who is Black, in order to model the behavior of employees and build trust among them.

Flipping v scenario

Hospitals that are prescribed vaccines face the same staffing pressures as their colleagues. But Inova’s vaccination mandate can help with recruiting and hiring, Jones said. “We are concerned that this could be a problem for staff in the short term. I think it will really be an advantage for us as people will want to work with other vaccinated people. “

The vast majority of nurses leaving employers don’t do it because of vaccines, said Jennifer Gil, who serves on the board of the American Nursing Association and is a registered nurse at Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals in Philadelphia. Gil did not speak on behalf of her employer, which announced the vaccine for its 34,000 workers last month with an October 29 deadline.

“I never talk about vaccination requirements or that this is the root of the problem. I’ve never heard such and such leave because he has to get vaccinated, ”Gil said. Instead, nurses complain that they are responsible for too many patients due to a lack of staff, lack of breaks for rest, eating or even going to the toilet, and a lack of resources, she said.

“Root of the problem: This is an unsafe practice. As we see an increase in the number of patients with COVID-19, and our staff are not vaccinated, this unsafe environment will simply continue – the nurses are leaving because they feel unsafe and unhappy. , “Said Gil. The American Nursing Association has outlined its problems and possible solutions in letter Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra this month.

What’s more, those hospitals that have met vaccination guidelines have a significant talent advantage: Fewer COVID-19 employees who miss work exacerbate staff shortages, lower morale and threaten hospital operations.

“You know what is very different from what it was a year ago?” Boom said. “We have much, much less absenteeism. So one more thing we did was preserve the ability of these brave men and women to be at the forefront of the crisis. ”

Ethical easily

“All healthcare professionals take an oath to protect patients, and vaccination is essential to fulfill this obligation,” said Arthur Kaplan, director of medical ethics at New York University.

“From an ethical point of view, it’s not difficult. Patients come first. This is what every code of ethics says for administrators, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, occupational therapists, ”Kaplan said. “They are not saying that the choice of doctors is paramount and the concerns of nurses are paramount,” he said.

“If you can’t accept the science of vaccination, you don’t have to be an employee. I don’t sympathize with this point of view, ”Kaplan said. “It makes no sense to listen to the rights of the unvaccinated because you are simply prolonging the suffering of all.”

Marie Devereaux contributed to To this is report.

Correction: V original version from this is article misspelled Houston Methodist Executive Director Mark Boom surname.

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