TORRINGTON – Torrington Community Hospital, a subsidiary of Banner Health announced all their employees will be required to be vaccinated by Nov. 1.
Banner Health issued a press released July 20 indicating the implementation of a new company-wide policy requiring all its employees to be vaccinated for COVID “to protect patients, team members and the community.”
Torrington Community Hospital Chief Executive Officer Zach Miller told the Telegram, “I am supportive and steadfastly believe that vaccination is one of the best ways we can keep our team and our community safe.”
The release states the decision was made to make the vaccination a condition of employment for the corporation. The release indicates there are “limited exceptions,” but does not list or indicate any of the approved exceptions to the policy. The release later states more details will be shared with team members in the coming weeks about the policy and the exemption request process.
“We care for some of the most vulnerable people in our communities and we owe it to them to take every measure possible to ensure the safest care environment,” said Peter Fine, president and CEO for Banner Health, in a company-wide email on July 20. “…we are taking this step to reduce risk for our patients, their families, visitors and each other. Safety is an absolute top priority and the COVID vaccine mandate reflects that commitment. The vaccine data has fully supported the safety and efficacy to prevent disease and reduce its severity. There is overwhelming evidence for us to act on behalf of the communities that rely on us to care for and protect them.”
The release states the implementation of the requirement came about due to the “rise of the Delta variant, the pending lift of the Emergency Use Authorization by the Food and Drug Administration, the need to protect its patients and workforce, and to prepare for the flu season.”
The release indicates “national data” shows 97% of COVID-related hospitalizations and 99% of COVID-19 deaths are in the unvaccinated.
Banner Health began taking steps to encourage vaccinations in July when they began an incentive program for employees who were fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
“Drawings will take place in July and August, with 10 winners total. Team members who are fully vaccinated at the time of the drawings will qualify. The winners will receive $10,000 each,” as quoted from the release.
In addition to the incentive, Banner Health provided paid time off, mileage reimbursements and points towards the company’s wellness program, which offers discounts on health insurance, to the employees who sought to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
“We are committed to providing a safe environment for our team members and patients during the COVID-19 pandemic, and we know that vaccination is the single most effective way to do this,” Miller said in an email to the Telegram. “The COVID-19 vaccines are safe and extremely effective, and we encourage all our team members and the community to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Banner’s vaccination requirement for its employees is just one more way we are demonstrating our commitment to safety. Exemptions will be considered in accordance with federal and state laws.”
To view the original press release, visit https://www.bannerhealth.com/newsroom/press-releases/banner-health-expands-its-covid19-employee-vaccination-program.
According to an Associated Press news release written by Carla K. Johnson and Mike Stobbe on June 29, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration began requiring healthcare employers to provide time off for employees to vaccinate against COVID and deal with any of the side effects caused by the body’s reaction to the inoculation.