Franciscan Health, one of the largest Catholic-based hospital systems in the Midwest, is stepping up its vaccination mandate for employees, telling them they must get their first dose by Oct. 15 and their second dose by Nov. 15, or submit to weekly testing.
Employees who don’t comply will be terminated, the system said in an internal memo to employees on Sept. 16.
“We not only have an obligation to protect ourselves from this deadly pandemic, we have a moral obligation to protect all those who come into contact with us,” the memo said.
It continued: “The common good outweighs individual freedom when faced with the reality that a vaccine exists that can halt the spread of a deadly virus.”
Franciscan Health, based in Mishawaka, employs 19,000 people and operates 12 hospital in Indiana and Illinois, including hospitals in Indianapolis, Carmel and Mooresville. The system has about 4,000 workers in central Indiana.
The latest announcement is a step up from an earlier note to employees that they get vaccinated by Aug. 31 or submit a lab-test result showing they have immunity to the COVID-19 virus.
Now, Franciscan workers are being given a hard deadline to comply. Employees who work remotely and never go into a Franciscan facility will not be required to get vaccinated or submit to weekly testing. But all others will be required to do so.
“Those who are assigned to a Franciscan facility or enter a Franciscan facility, even infrequently, and refuse to receive the required vaccines or submit to weekly testing and masking will be separated from employment and/or association with Franciscan,” the notice said.
As of August, about 75% of Franciscan’s staff had received at least the first dose of a vaccine, about 19% were not yet vaccinated and 6% did not respond to the survey.
Meanwhile, at Community Health Network, less than half of 1% of the workforce of 16,000, or fewer than 80 workers, refused to get vaccinated and have left the system after the Aug. 31 deadline.
Dr. Ram Yeleti, chief physician executive at Community Health, said he supports employee mandates not only for his workforce, but for all large companies.
“I do think if we want the pandemic to end and get back to normal, that’s the only way to get back to normal,” he said Friday at the IBJ Health Care & Benefits panel discussion.
Indiana University Health, the state’s largest hospital system, said on Sept. 16 that it had parted ways with 125 employees who have chosen not to get the COVID-19 vaccine as required.
IU Health did not say whether the workers quit or were fired. The system has 36,000 employees in 16 hospitals and scores of clinics.
Eskenazi Health had given workers until Sept. 20 to get vaccinated, but did not respond to an email for an update on the situation.
Ascension St. Vincent has given workers until Nov. 12 to get vaccinated.
Several large companies, including drugmaker Eli Lilly and Co. and medical technology company Roche Diagnostics, have also issued vaccination requirements to their employees.