Atrium Health says this policy change applies to all employees; including students, temporary workers and volunteer staff
MACON, Georgia – A North Carolina-based healthcare system with hospitals in central Georgia announced Thursday that it will soon require employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
While healthcare workers were among the first to be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, Atrium Health previously did not require their employees to be vaccinated.
Atrium Health confirmed to 13WMAZ’s sister station, NBC Charlotte, that more than 70,000 employees at its 40 hospitals will need to be vaccinated by Halloween.
They also sent the following statement to 13WMAZ:
“Since the onset of the pandemic, Atrium Health has earned the trust of our patients and the communities we are privileged to serve in our COVID-Safe practices, designed to maximize patient safety and limit their potential exposure to the virus. Since the new Delta variant is much more potent than the original virus, we consider it essential that each of our teammates receive their vaccination to protect themselves, their family and those in their care.
These new variants are contributing to a 200% increase in hospitalizations – and, among our patients, 99% of people hospitalized in recent weeks are unvaccinated people. This further illustrates the effectiveness of the vaccine.
We have started communicating to all of our teammates (including teleworkers, physicians, resident physicians, faculty, fellows, interns, contractors, visiting students / students, medical staff, temporary workers, and volunteer staff) that they must be fully immunized or have an approved medical or religious exemption. By making the vaccine mandatory for our teammates, Atrium Health, including Wake Forest Baptist Health and Atrium Health Navicent, along with several other health systems in the region, are taking reasonable steps to ensure our teammates – many of whom stay on. The front lines, interacting directly with people with COVID – are protected and available to care for community members as we face the next phases of the pandemic.
We view this vaccine in the same way as our requirement for our teammates to be vaccinated against the flu every year, as well as to be vaccinated against measles, chickenpox and other infectious diseases. The COVID-19 vaccine is essential to protect the health of our teammates and the communities we serve. We believe it is essential to maintain the safest possible care environment for our patients and it is a critical part of our ability to remain COVID-Safe in the face of new variants affecting our region. “
Atrium Health also told NBC Charlotte that employees who do not receive their vaccines by October 31 may receive counseling that may result in termination of their employment. Medical and religious exceptions will be made on a case-by-case basis.
They said, “All teammates must complete their COVID-19 vaccine series or have an approved medical or religious exemption by Sunday, October 31, 2021. Teammates who do not follow this policy will receive counseling for not receiving the required vaccines. This could lead to consequences which may go as far as termination of employment. We value our teammates who have medical or religious reasons for not receiving the vaccine and will assess these requests through a multidisciplinary committee. “
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