Michigan hospitals required to implement vaccine mandate

‘Mandates are not to everyone’s liking but we can’t afford for this virus to attack more of our caregivers’
Published: Nov. 15, 2021 at 4:59 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Sparrow and McLaren Greater Lansing have not mandated COVID-19 vaccinations for employees, but by Jan. 4, anyone who works in health care facilities participating in the Medicare and Medicaid programs will have to be fully vaccinated.

News 10 obtained an email sent out Monday to Sparrow caregivers from the health system’s president. It reads in part, “We will comply with the government’s decision... Mandates are not to everyone’s liking but we can’t afford for this virus to attack more of our caregivers... by Jan. 5, 2022, everyone at Sparrow will have to be fully vaccinated or meet a federally designated exemption.”

Sparrow’s president said it’s required to enforce the government mandate in order to be reimbursed for taking care of Medicare and Medicaid patients.

The memo also said since January 22 of this year, more than 375 non-vaccinated caregivers have tested positive for COVID-19.

Related: COVID surges in Mid-Michigan just before holiday season

“I would want my doctors and nurses to be vaccinated before they took care of me. That’s an obvious thing to me,” said Jan Monk, who supports the mandate.

Sparrow declined an interview and said they’re still “working through the process.”

Several Sparrow employees did not want to speak on camera, but one person told News 10, “I believe that every person should have a choice in what is given to them. This is not something that should be forced upon people. I have had a side effect from it that may never go away, and I now have to live with that. Many employees are upset about not having a choice.”

McLaren Greater Lansing will also comply with the mandate.

“Our system clinical and executive leaders are studying the details of the CMS regulation and are working in partnership with our Emerging Pathogens Response Team (EPRT), and other experts, to establish policies to apply the new vaccine requirement, including the limited exemptions under the federal guidelines. We will communicate the details of our final policies and procedures throughout the system over the next week,” wrote Sarah Barber, senior marketing and communication specialist for McLaren.

For those getting a two-dose vaccine, this means they’ll have to get their first dose by December 6.

In a statement, Katie Pontifex, president of the Professional Employee Council of Sparrow Hospital-Michigan Nurses Association wrote, “The COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective and all healthcare workers who can do so are encouraged to be vaccinated so we can protect ourselves, our patients and our community. Unfortunately, any mandate is only going to drive more nurses and health professionals away from healthcare at a time when hospitals across the nation are dealing with self-created staffing crises. We will continue to advocate for the health, safety and well-being of our members, our patients and our community.”

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