LMH Health announces employee vaccine requirement
LMH Health President & CEO Russ Johnson announced today that vaccination against COVID-19 will be a condition of employment and contract engagement for all employees, staff, volunteers and vendors who work in our hospital and health system locations.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, vaccines represent the most powerful tool to help prevent serious infection, hospitalization and death,” said Johnson. “Vaccines are vital in protecting our employees, providers, patients and community.”
Johnson said that this requirement is in response to already high vaccination rates among LMH Health providers and employees.
“Ninety-nine percent of our providers and nearly 90 percent of our employees are already fully vaccinated,” said Johnson. “This incredible accomplishment demonstrates their commitment to keeping themselves and their patients safe. With this requirement, we are saying, ‘We hear you, we support you, and we acknowledge that in a time like this, our responsibility to others must come in front of individual preferences.’”
The requirement follows FDA approval for the Pfizer vaccine. Approval for the Moderna vaccine is anticipated to follow soon. Johnson said the requirement is consistent with a large and growing number of hospitals, health systems and hospital associations across the country, including many in Kansas City and the surrounding areas. It also aligns with LMH Health’s approach to requiring vaccinations for influenza.
Dr. James Mandigo, LMH Health Chief of Staff, supported the administration’s decision to require vaccination.
“COVID and the delta variant are difficult to control because people can carry and transmit the disease without showing symptoms,” said Dr. Mandigo. “There are very limited treatment options, and due to the rising Delta variant infection rate, very few critical care beds available in our region. Our recommendation to require the vaccine stems from the increases in infection rates of unvaccinated individuals. There is overwhelming evidence that vaccines are what will keep us all healthy in the face of COVID-19. As our region again faces tremendous challenges, we must do all we can to keep our community, patients and each other safe.”
Bob Moody, chair of the LMH Heath Board of Trustees, said that while free, effective vaccines have been available for months, only half of those eligible in Kansas are fully vaccinated.
“Now is not the time to try to place blame, but to work together to stymie this virus,” said Moody. “Perhaps most troubling of all is the toil this pandemic has taken on our healthcare community. Our employees and providers care deeply about their patients - their friends and neighbors. Supporting our LMH team means supporting a vaccine requirement.”
Dr. Michael Zabel, a cardiologist with LMH Health, said supporting the vaccination requirement shows patients that the healthcare system has their best interests at heart.
“As always, we are committed to protecting our patients in every way we can—requiring our employees, providers and associates to be vaccinated does just that,” said Dr. Zabel. “Vaccinated individuals are less likely to become seriously ill if they do contract COVID. Not only will mandatory vaccination provide benefits to the few currently unvaccinated individuals who will now receive the vaccine, it will help ensure our teams are able to care for our community as we confront this evolving situation.”
Vaccination will required by Nov. 21, 2021. Requests for exemptions for medical and religious reasons may be granted following review by Employee Health and Human Resources respectively. New employees and associates will be required to be vaccinated within 30 days of hire.
Dr. Zabel hopes that this requirement will send a powerful message to the community.
“The individuals you rely on to keep you safe and healthy strongly believe in the safety and benefits of the vaccine,” said Dr. Zabel. “There is no more potent method to convince our friends and neighbors to be vaccinated than leading by example. Given that we have over 30,000 eligible, unvaccinated Douglas County citizens, we have a moral obligation to step up and be examples, both as individuals and as an institution.”
All three COVID-19 vaccines have been proven to be safe and effective through extensive clinical trials. Nearly 200 million Americans have received at least one shot without major complications. Ready to be vaccinated? Call your healthcare provider or visit lmh.org/vaccine for options.