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 requirements.

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 Wellmont.

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.”