Wellmont Leads Way In Protecting Patients From Flu; All
Co-Workers Complete Vaccination Requirements
Reinforcing their regional leadership in protecting patients
from the flu, all current Wellmont
Health System co-workers have completed their annual vaccination
For the third straight year, Wellmont has achieved
sensational results in the vaccination program that ensure patients are not at
risk of contracting the potentially fatal illness from a healthcare worker. The
compliance rate was 99.999 percent.
“As a healthcare
organization, we have a responsibility to maintain a safe environment for our
patients,” said Denny DeNarvaez, Wellmont’s president and CEO. “Our co-workers
have embraced this philosophy and demonstrated that patient safety is their No.
1 priority. This is commendable and reassures patients and their friends and
loved ones that they can focus on healing.”
Wellmont joined many well-respected hospitals and health
systems across the country in 2010 by establishing a policy requiring co-workers,
integrated physicians, student workers, volunteers and vendors performing
services in Wellmont hospitals to be vaccinated against the flu. Any person who
did not comply was not allowed to retain employment or perform services at
This program dovetailed with recommendations of leading
healthcare organizations that backed vaccination. They included the American
Academy of Pediatrics, the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology, the Infectious
Diseases Society of America and the Tennessee Hospital Association.
The importance of flu vaccination cannot be overstated
because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says as many as 49,000
lives have been lost in a year in the United States due to flu. On Saturday,
Dec. 1, the Johnson City Press reported that 77 cases of the flu and two deaths
have already been confirmed in North Carolina and that instances of the illness
are starting to escalate across the country.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has concluded
that vaccination is the most important way someone can avoid contracting the
flu. Wellmont encourages all people, not just its co-workers, to be vaccinated.
Wellmont’s policy includes exemptions for co-workers who
have a confirmed allergy to the flu vaccine or have a religious tenet, backed
by their pastor, that opposes vaccination. These co-workers are required to
wear a mask from Dec. 1 until March 31 when they have contact with patients.
“The excellent response by our co-workers to our vaccination
program shows how passionate they are about creating a culture of wellness in
our region,” DeNarvaez said. “Their compassionate approach to delivering health
care illustrates the high level of respect they have for their patients. Our
health system is proud to set high safety standards to protect patients
entrusted to our care.”