Statement regarding IU Health Influenza Patient Safety Program
An IU Health Goshen Release
The prevention of influenza (flu) is a national health priority. IU Health developed its annual Influenza Patient Safety Program based on recommendations from national health authorities and professional societies including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Patient Safety Foundation, the American Hospital Association, the American College of Physicians, the Association for Practitioners in Infection Control, the Society of Hospital Epidemiology of America and the Infectious Disease Society of America, among others. All of these organizations endorse a policy of mandatory influenza vaccination for healthcare workers for the purpose of protecting patients.
IU Health’s top priority is the health and wellbeing of our patients. As a trusted leader in caring for people and advancing health, we are responsible for delivering the best care in the safest environment. Influenza can be fatal for patients with weakened immune systems, children and the elderly. Therefore, participation in the annual Influenza Patient Safety Program is a condition of employment with IU Health for the safety and health of the patients that we serve.
The flu vaccine is not the only vaccination required for IU Health employees. In the interest of patient health and safety, IU Health mandates other vaccines, tests and proof of immunity such as MMR, DPT, and TB skin testing.
IU Health Influenza Patient Safety Program – the Process
The Influenza Patient Safety Program was introduced in 2011. It was determined from the onset that the program would become mandatory for the 2012-2013 flu season. IU Health communicated to employees of its intent to make the Influenza Patient Safety Program mandatory for the 2012-2013 flu season as early as October 2011. The first year was used to assure accurate tracking of data at all sites, and phase the program in. Employees could receive or decline vaccination that first year.
As the 2012-2013 flu season drew closer, IU Health started communicating details in September 2012 regarding its annual flu vaccination policy to employees in an ongoing basis to strongly support employee participation and reach our goal of 100 percent compliance by the deadline of December 15, 2012. IU Health offered the flu shots at no cost, in the workplace, to make participation affordable and convenient. IU Health also offered several alternatives to the traditional injectable vaccine, including a flu mist and a preservative-free solution. These alternatives were made available to accommodate those with a fear of needles, specific allergies or concerns surrounding preservatives, lead or mercury.
IU Health employees that held concerns – be they medical, religious or other – were given the opportunity to apply for an exemption. Each request for exemption was taken seriously and considered by a panel of experts. Employees were notified of the decision regarding their application in a timely and respectful manner. Employees were also allowed to appeal the panel's decision, in which case the decision was then reviewed by a statewide panel of experts.
The Influenza Patient Safety Program has been applied consistently across all IU Health facilities, to the more than 26,000 employees. The deadline for vaccination or an approved exemption was December 15, 2012.
Those employees who failed to meet the deadline entered a three-step, corrective-action process consisting of:
I. Written Warning -- with a further seven calendar days to comply with the policy
II. Suspension -- a three-day suspension without pay but still a final window to comply
III. Termination of Employment -- employees who failed to get vaccinated during the previous three-day suspension period face termination by the department leader
The timings of the corrective action stage have been managed at a facility level and may vary slightly. This process is nearly completed and has been applied consistently across all of IU Health.
- more than 25,500 employees complied (meaning they either had the vaccination or received an approved exemption)
- approximately 175 terminations in total across all of IU Health are expected; this process will be concluded in the next few weeks.
IU Health respects its employees but will not compromise patient health and safety. Hundreds of healthcare systems across the country have implemented mandatory programs to vaccinate employees against influenza. IU Health is committed to being among the leaders taking this important step to safeguard patient health and safety.”
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Contact: Whitney Ertel, Manager, Public Relations, Ph: 317.607.1248; firstname.lastname@example.org
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