COSHOCTON — Local health care systems said they are ready to comply with vaccine mandates to ensure the best continued care to patients.
On Nov. 5, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced a rule that all employees of medical facilities that take Medicare or Medicaid will have to be vaccinated for COVID-19.
Employees must be fully vaccinated by Jan. 4, 2022, except for those who have an exemption.
Kaylee Andrews, manager of business development and marketing for Coshocton Regional Medical Center, said the hospital is prepared to comply with the vaccine mandate. She also said Prime Healthcare, CRMC's parent company, has established vaccine mandates in other states that have already required providers to do so.
"COVID-19 vaccines have proven to be safe and highly effective at preventing transmission, hospitalizations and death from the virus. Our priority is always the safety and well-being of our patients and staff, and stopping the spread of the virus," Andrews said. "We are committed to addressing our staff’s questions on vaccines and providing information in response to any concerns they might have."
Matt Perry, chief executive officer for Genesis HealthCare System in Zanesville, said they "really have no choice" but to follow the rule, as failing to do so could result in heavy fines or they could lose the ability to see Medicare patients.
"No health care organization can survive not being part of those programs," he said.
Perry said Genesis has met with its staff and is working with them to meet one of the three options available; getting vaccinated or meet a medical or religious exemption.
"Those are the three options that literally every hospital and health care organization in the country has to abide by," he said.
Perry said the company has made it easy to get a vaccine, but he anticipates a large number of employees applying for an exemption.
Those who do not qualify for one of the two exemptions and refuse to get vaccinated will not be allowed to work in a medical facility, Perry said. "There is no leeway," he said.
The requirement that all employers with 100 or more employees have their workforce get vaccinated does not apply to medical facilities, said Perry, because that ruling allows for unvaccinated employees to be tested daily. The regulation for medical facilities does not allow for the daily testing option.
'It is a dilemma," he said. "People are wrestling with it, our goal is helping our people through it."
Chris Crook of the Zanesville Times Recorder contributed to this story.
This article originally appeared on Coshocton Tribune: Local health care workers facing vaccine mandate