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Stormont Vail issues vaccine requirement for employees

Published: Sep. 2, 2021 at 3:02 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Staff at Stormont Vail Health will now be required to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Stormont Vail Health told employees about the policy change Thursday afternoon, Sept. 2. Employees must be vaccinated against COVID-19 and influenza by Oct. 31, 2021.

“We feel that this is an important step now and in this time and place to protect the health of employees, to protect the health of our patients, to protect the health of our community,” Dr. Robert Kenagy, Stormont Vail CEO, said.

Kenagy said the policy includes exceptions for religious and medical reasons. He says it is in keeping with the influenza vaccine requirement for employees, which has been in place for several years.

As of Aug. 31, Stormont Vail’s COVID-19 dashboard shows that 4,038 employees, volunteers and non-employed medical staff have been vaccinated. Hospital officials estimate the number accounts for more than 85 percent of its employees.

Kenagy said hospital leaders have spent the past few weeks reaching out to those who have not been vaccinated to address their concerns, as administrators contemplated making it a requirement. Kenagy admits it is frustrating to continue to see vaccine hesitation.

“It is very frustrating to know that, in this day and age, we are talking about a well-established science that protects millions of people around the country, billions of people across the world, and we cannot get to a place of consensus as a community, as a culture to endorse vaccination,” he said.

The new policy comes as Stormont, like hospitals nationwide, struggles with staffing issues. Kenagy said Stormont has more than 100 open RN positions. Asked if he felt some employees might leave over the COVID vaccination requirement, Kenagy said he anticipated a few might leave, however he felt the requirement also could attract workers looking for a safer environment.

On Wednesday, the University of Kansas Health St. Francis Campus said it would not require its employees to be vaccinated against the virus. The University of Kansas Health System announced earlier that morning that it would require employees at its Kansas City facilities to be vaccinated.

St. Francis CEO Steve Anderson said they continue educating employees and encouraging them to get vaccinated. St. Francis said 70% of its employees are vaccinated.

For more information about COVID-19 and Stormont Vail, click HERE.

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