MercyOne, Broadlawns require COVID-19 vaccinations for staff

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DES MOINES, Iowa — MercyOne and Broadlawns Medical Center will both require staff members to get vaccinated against COVID-19, joining the growing number of hospitals and health systems across the country with vaccine mandates.

Staff members at Broadlawns Medical Center in Des Moines and all MercyOne locations must be fully vaccinated by Nov. 1, 2021.

Bob Ritz, CEO of MercyOne, said in a statement, “As a faith-based health ministry, we have pledged to protect the most vulnerable. Our patients and their families expect us to provide a safe environment for their care, and that includes being vaccinated.”

MercyOne will allow employees to apply for an exemption if they have medical reasons or strongly held religious beliefs. Broadlawns Medical Center is also allowing exemptions for medical conditions or religious beliefs, and pregnant staff members are encouraged to get vaccinated but not required.

In total, 76% of Broadlawns staff is already fully vaccinated, according to the hospital. Staff members who choose not to comply with the vaccination requirement must resign or be fired, Broadlawns said.

“The recent resurgence of Covid-19 cases has illustrated the importance of utilizing every available precaution to mitigate further spread of this disease,” said Karl Vilums, interim president and CEO of Broadlawns Medical Center. “With that at the forefront of our decision making, our administrative, physician and nursing leaders have agree that vaccinating the remainder of our staff is the judicious course toward ensuring the health and safety of our coworkers, patients and the community we serve.”

More than 100 hospitals and health systems throughout the United States have already required employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Trinity Health, which operates seven MercyOne hospitals in Iowa, previously announced that its workers must submit proof of vaccination by Sept. 21, 2021. MercyOne employees in the central Iowa and northeast Iowa regions and MercyOne Elkader Medical Center will be required to get vaccinated by Nov. 1.

Last week, UnityPoint Health notified employees that they would need to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to keep their jobs, also allowing for some exemptions.

The U.S. is now averaging more than 100,000 new COVID-19 infections a day, a milestone last exceeded during the winter surge, due to the spread of the highly contagious delta variant.

In response, more than 50 health care professional societies and organizations have called for all health care workers to be vaccinated. That includes the American Medical Association, American Nurses Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, among others.

“The safety of our patients, residents, colleagues, physicians and communities is a top priority for us,” MercyOne Chief Medical Executive Dr. Hijinio Carreon said in a statement. “With more than 350 million doses administered in the United States, we know the COVID-19 vaccines are safe and the single most effective tool in slowing, and even stopping, the spread of virus and saving lives.”

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