More Greater Cincinnati hospital groups announce vaccine requirements for workers

Credit: Eileen McClory

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Credit: Eileen McClory

All of Cincinnati’s major hospital groups are requiring their staffs and volunteers be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus, they announced Thursday morning in a joint news conference at Christ Hospital.

Those hospital groups include Mercy Health, TriHealth, University of Cincinnati Health, Christ Hospital, St. Elizabeth Healthcare in Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

Shortly before the business day ended Thursday, Premier Health, which owns Atrium Medical Center in Middletown, followed by Kettering Health, which owns Kettering Health Hamilton (formerly Fort Hamilton Hospital) also said they would require their health providers and employees to get vaccinations.

“Requiring the COVID-19 vaccination for all of our health-care providers and staff is the responsible thing to do, not only to protect our patients, their families and our workforce, but also our community as a whole, and especially — certainly, from my perspective — kids, who aren’t yet eligible for vaccinations,” said Michael Fisher, president and CEO of Cincinnati Children’s.

Mark Clement, president and CEO of TriHealth, explained the reason for the new requirement: “Last week, Director of the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Dr. Rochelle Walensky, stated that the war has changed, and the delta variant is now one of the most transmissible viruses that we know about.”

Clement said all 50 states are seeing cases of the COVID-19 increase because of the delta variant, which is more dangerous and transmissible than prior strains. That has happened in Greater Cincinnati, but “to a lesser degree because of a higher rate of vaccinations than we’ve seen in some states around the nation.”

Clement called the disease a once-in-a-century pandemic, adding, “This fourth wave is a pandemic of the unvaccinated.”

“Safety really is our foundational responsibility,” Fisher said in announcing that all his hospital’s 16,600 employees, plus students, contractors, vendors and volunteers must be vaccinated by Oct. 1. Exceptions will be granted for approved medical conditions and religious prohibitions.

“Each of our institutions has independently and individually made the decision to require the COVID-19 vaccination for everyone who works or volunteers in our systems,” Fisher said.

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“This is also about providing reassurance to everyone in our community that it’s safe to come to seek the inpatient, outpatient, preventive healthcare that they need, regardless of which of the health systems they seek that care from,” Fisher said.

Officials with the hospitals said scientific evidence and real-world experience show COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective.

“At Premier Health, our commitment to safeguarding the health of our patients, visitors, providers and staff is always our highest priority,” said Mary Boosalis, president and CEO of Premier Health, which will require vaccinations by Dec. 1. “Vaccination against COVID-19 is our best tool to prevent spread of the disease and ensure the health and well-being of our hospital workforce and the communities we serve.”

James Buechele, spokesman for Kettering Health announced that group will require all employees, medical staff, students and volunteers be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by October 4.

“We urge others in our community to get the COVID-19 vaccine, as it is our best tool in the fight against this virus,” Kettering Health announced. “Vaccination against COVID-19 protects you and everyone around you: your family, your friends, your community.”

“At Premier Health, our commitment to safeguarding the health of our patients, visitors, providers and staff is always our highest priority,” said Mary Boosalis, president and CEO of Premier Health. “Vaccination against COVID-19 is our best tool to prevent spread of the disease and ensure the health and well-being of our hospital workforce and the communities we serve.”

Before Premier and Kettering announced their new requirements, Sarah Hackenbracht, CEO of the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association, said her organization’s hospitals, but had not made such decisions. She noted Dayton Children’s Hospital recently added a similar requirement of all staff, volunteers, students and onsite contractors.

“We recognize that throughout the pandemic, the staff and employees of our region’s hospitals are the most precious resource that we have,” she said.

Area hospitals are now able to treat patients for many things other than the coronavirus, she noted, unlike the early period of the pandemic, when all elective surgeries were canceled.

“Now, we’re operating at full capacity and treating COVID patients,” Hackenbracht said.

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