09-19-2009, 05:14 AM
Joined: Aug 2006
Portsmouth hospital employees get choice: Flu shot or mask — or find a new job
Quote:PORTSMOUTH — Portsmouth Regional Hospital officials have mandated their employees either get a seasonal flu vaccine shot, wear a mask — or get a new job.
The companywide policy recently enforced by the hospital's parent company, Hospital Corporation of America, involves strict guidelines on how employees should be prepared for the upcoming flu season.
The effort is part of an ongoing initiative by the hospital called "I am vaccinated because I care" and involves education and outreach for all employees, their patients and the surrounding community, said hospital spokesperson Nancy Notis.
"We are also encouraging members of the community and the greater Seacoast community to also get vaccinated," Notis said. "This is just a part of us taking very seriously the protection of our patients and citizens."
Notis said the hospital is working very closely with its employees to counsel them about the threat of the flu and should they not comply with the policy they could be subject to possible termination.
"It's a situation that we'll be looking at very closely," Notis said.
A two-week vaccination period for employees began Wednesday and employees can choose from either a standard shot or a nasal spray. If they don't want either, they will be required to wear a mask from Oct. 1 through March 31 while in the building, said Martha Wassell, infection control practitioner.
The hospital will also have isolations stations at each entrance with masks, gloves and tissues.
"We are having multiple clinics from now until Oct. 1," said Wassell.
In addition to the clinics, the hospital will also offer employees assistance at the employee health department and a specialized call line that will enable employees that are too busy with patient care to participate in clinics the opportunity to have the actual vaccination brought to them.
While it's unclear on what the upcoming flu season will be like, Wassell said the hospital has been planning all along for a busy season with both the seasonal flu and H1N1 virus.
"This is really what we've been doing all along, " she said. "We're just ramping it up a bit."
In addition to its own employees, Notis said the hospital is also encouraging members of the community and the greater Seacoast community to get vaccinated as well.
"We are working very closely with the city of Portsmouth and surrounding towns," Notis said. "This is an opportunity to prepare in this case for flu season and to prepare our citizens. It's also a way to look forward — God forbid something worse come down the pipe."
Notis said the hospital is also working with several other Seacoast hospitals and ones around the state doing similar kinds of things and encouraging employees to get vaccinated. They are also reaching out to local media outlets as well.
In an effort to help community members get vaccinated and receive information on the upcoming flu season, a major flu clinic has been scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 17, at Portsmouth High School.
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