COVID vaccine required for Alomere health workers by Dec. 6
The hospital says it is abiding by the federal mandate requiring vaccinations for all institutions that receive Medicare or Medicaid funding.
All of Alomere's 700 employees will have to be vaccinated for COVID-19 or start the vaccine series by Dec. 6 unless they have a medical or religious exemption, the hospital said.
Without an exemption or a vaccination, they will not be allowed to report to work, said spokesman Edward Reif.
CEO Carl Vaagenes said in an email that the hospital is requiring the vaccine to comply with a federal mandate ordering vaccinations for workers at all U.S. health care facilities that accept Medicaid or Medicare funding.
Employees will not be allowed to take regular COVID tests instead of getting vaccinated. While full vaccination status is required, booster shots are not.
Healthcare facilities found to be out of compliance with the rule after Jan. 4 may face financial penalties and could even lose its ability to receive Medicare and Medicaid payments, according to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. However, the agency did say that its focus would be to bring a facility into compliance before levying any penalty.
"However, the agency will not hesitate to use its full enforcement authority to protect the health and safety of patients," it said in a Nov. 4 announcement.
The requirements apply to a range of health care facilities, including hospitals, long-term care facilities, home health agencies and clinics.
Vaagenes called Alomere workers "amazing heroes" who have been "extremely vigilant" in trying to stop the spread of COVID-19.
"As we work together to follow the new federal vaccination mandate, we can all take great comfort and pride in the continuous dedication our staff has demonstrated to living our values of accountability, compassion, excellence, hospitality, and integrity in everything you do,” he said.
Alomere leaders considered requiring vaccines several months ago, but ultimately did not do so until the federal mandate was announced.
It is unclear how many Alomere workers will be affected by the announcement, or whether the county-owned hospital has received feedback from workers. As of Aug. 25, 74% of Alomere Health employees were vaccinated, including almost 100% of providers, he said.
Alomere Health is short-staffed, and has temporarily halted doing elective surgeries so it can deploy those workers to other places in the hospital.