Via Christi Makes Employee Flu Shots Mandatory

By: Phil White Email
By: Phil White Email

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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

With a new flu season approaching, Via Christi Health is changing its employee flu shot policy.

Via Christi will now require all employees to be immunized against the flu. Failure to comply with the new requirement by Dec. 1 will be considered a voluntary resignation, Via Christi said in a memo to employees.

The hospital operator says the move is aimed at keeping patients, staff and visitors safe.

"There really has been very little push back," said Dr. Thomas Kluzak, who serves on Via Christi's safety committee. "This has been strongly encouraged in the past."

Kluzak said many hospitals across the country have already adopted similar policies requiring employees to receive the flu vaccine.

"We think it's a simple and easy thing that we can do to just help improve the safety of all our patients," Kluzak said.

Via Christi will grant medical and religious exemptions to employees. Those who qualify for the exemptions will have to wear a mask during flu season.

Masks are also required at Wesley Medical center for employees who do not volunteer to have flu shots. The shots, however, are not required.

"They're strongly encouraged," said Jennifer Krier, Wesley's human resources manager. "Otherwise, if they don't get the flu shot then they do have to wear the mask to be in compliance."

Wesley's policy has been in place since 2009, Krier said.

The now-mandatory flu shots at Via Christi are part of enhanced safety efforts -- including requiring all employees to wash their hands when they enter and exit patient rooms -- being implemented in an effort to prevent hospital-acquired infections.

The shots are also expected to cut down on employee absenteeism.

"We don't want to be caught in a position where we have a flu epidemic and all kinds of people are being admitted to the hospital and we don't have anybody to care for them because they're all home with the flu," Kluzak said.

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