Intermountain Healthcare to require vaccination for all employees
Intermountain Healthcare will now require all 42,000 of its caregivers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
The decision will comply with federal vaccination requirements announced by President Joe Biden last month.
The Biden administration issued the Path Out of the Pandemic COVID-19 Action Plan on Sept. 9, requiring federal agencies to implement vaccination requirements in three areas, which all affect Intermountain. Those areas includes companies that contract with the federal government, employers with more than 100 employees and health care facilities that participate in Medicaid or Medicare.
“In order to remain fully compliant with federal requirements to care for the hundreds of thousands of patients in the communities that we serve, as well as for the safety and well-being of all patients and our caregivers, we’ve carefully made the decision to add this requirement,” said Dr. Mark Briesacher, chief physician executive and vice president of Intermountain.
IHC will also review medical and religious exemptions with employees.
“We set a target for Dec. 1 to have medical and religious exemptions in place and we will work through those carefully and thoroughly and honor those exemptions,” Briesacher said.
According to Briesacher, employees who have either not been vaccinated or submitted an exemption by Jan. 5 will be placed on administrative leave. If they still haven’t complied by Feb. 9, they will be “separated from the organization in a caring, thoughtful, supportive way,” he said.
The good news, Briesacher said, is that approximately 80% of Intermountain caregivers are already vaccinated against COVID.
“We care about everyone working in health care,” he said. “We went through a careful process and it became clear that this is the simplest and easiest approach and concluded it’s best for our patients and caregivers to take the approach and require vaccination for everybody.”
In response to the federal action, the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force published guidelines that employees of federal contractors and subcontractors, which includes health providers, must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has also announced forthcoming regulations requiring the vaccine.
Intermountain currently requires caregivers to be vaccinated for other communicable diseases, including influenza, hepatitis B, measles and mumps, and whooping cough.
“These viruses and bacteria easily spread throughout the community if you are vulnerable and not immune,” Briesacher said. “They can cause serious illness. It’s really sad when someone contracts something like measles when it could have been prevented.”
Briesacher said the decision for those not yet vaccinated may be significant.
“Every employee is a valued member of the Intermountain Healthcare team, and we will walk with them through each step of this requirement,” he said. “Following this government rule will enable us to continue to care for patients and members in our communities and help keep our caregivers as safe as possible, which is critical to our mission,”