Essentia Fires Employees For Not Complying With Flu Shot Policy
Flu vaccinations are not required for healthcare workers in the state of Minnesota, but Essentia Health decided it was time to make it a requirement within all of their facilities. Leaders at Essentia say the change in policy came simply because they were not happy with the current number of employees who received a flu shot.
“We’re sitting around that 70-80 percent of our work force and colleagues who were getting immunized and we knew that we could do better with that and that we needed to do better than that if we were going to live our mission,” said Essentia Health Communications Director Miranda Anderson.
In order to reach the 100 percent mark, Essentia gave employees until yesterday to comply with the policy.
“With an awareness and a focus on patient safety, our flu immunization policy changed from being one asking for participation alone to actually asking for vaccination,” Anderson said.
There were some exceptions for religious or medical reasons, but regardless, all employees had to either get vaccinated or apply for one of the exemptions.
“Physicians, nurses, food service, to myself who works in an office and isn’t in direct patient care, as well as our volunteers, students who are here working along side of our staff and then also our vendors who are coming into our facility,” Anderson said.
Around half of one percent of all employees did not receive the vaccination or have an approved exemption and lost their jobs.
“We don’t have any pockets of employees, it’s really individual decisions and conversations and things they have wrestled through so no significant pockets of employees and we are delivering care in our hospitals and clinics today, just like we would have in the days previous,” Anderson said.
Throughout the process, Essentia held many communication sessions to help inform employees about why they thought the change was necessary.
“Based on our focus for improving patient safety and for protecting those that we are caring for this is really something we just needed to do as an organization,” Anderson said.
Essentia did not give specific numbers on how many people lost their jobs but stated half of one percent of employees were fired as a result of not following the policy. This percent includes nearly 14,000 people across Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota and Idaho.