In a turnaround, Ascension St. Vincent to require employees to get vaccinated

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The parent of Ascension St. Vincent announced Tuesday it will require all employees to get vaccinated for COVID-19 by Nov. 12, becoming the last major hospital system in the Indianapolis area to lay down the requirement.

The announcement comes as the delta virus is surging across Indiana and the United States, with infections and hospitalizations on the rise.

The St. Louis-based organization, which is the largest Catholic health system in the United States, employs about 14,700 people in Indiana at more than 20 hospitals and dozens of outpatient clinics and doctors’ offices.

Nationally, it operates more than 2,600 sites of care—including 151 hospitals and more than 50 senior living facilities—in 21 states and the District of Columbia. It has about 160,000 employees in the U.S.

Just last week, a spokeswoman for Ascension St. Vincent in Indianapolis said the company was “strongly recommending” but not requiring vaccinations for employees. She said she did not have additional information beyond a statement issued by the corporate office.

Ascension’s decision to require vaccinations follows all three other major health systems here. Indiana University Health and Community Health Network last month announced a vaccination requirement for employees by September.

This week, Franciscan Health said it would institute a requirement once the Food and Drug Administration upgrades its approval on the vaccines from emergency use to standard use.

In its statement on Tuesday, Ascension said tens of thousands of employees have already been vaccinated. It did not say how many employees had yet to be vaccinated.

“But we must do more to overcome this pandemic as we provide safe environments for those we serve,” the company said in a statement.

Ascension said the vaccination mandate covers all people employed by the hospital system, along with people employed by subsidiaries and partners; physicians and advance practice providers; and volunteers and vendors entering Ascension facilities.

Ascension said the November deadline for getting vaccinated aligns with its annual influenza requirement. The company did not explicitly say whether employees who refused to get a vaccine would be terminated.

Ascension said in instances in which someone declines to get vaccinated due to a medical condition or strongly held religious belief, the company will provide a process for requesting an exemption.

The company said the vaccination requirement will be implemented in accordance with collective bargaining agreements reached between Ascension business entities and its unions. No Ascension facilities in Indiana are unionized.

“Together, we will put this pandemic behind us,” the company statement said, “so that we can continue to focus on meeting the needs of those who come to us for care.”

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15 thoughts on “In a turnaround, Ascension St. Vincent to require employees to get vaccinated

  1. I’m glad they followed suit and only wish they’d done this MUCH sooner. No hospital staff should put patients – who already have health problems of their own – unnecessarily at risk.

    1. People with the vaccine can still get Covid as well as carry and spread it. It makes no sense. So they want us to deal with the symptoms of Covid and the vaccine, great!!

    2. To Clark, the vaccines are extremely effective at preventing hospitalizations and death. There are breakthrough cases with any vaccine, including influenza. As a physician I consider it to be an ethical imperative for all health care workers to be vaccinated. I applaud Ascension for taking this position.

    3. Paul, I have a question for you. I understand that getting the vaccine will reduce the severity of illness and for that I’m grateful, but it doesn’t sound like it’s preventing transmission. I am assuming the reason for the mandates is to protect patients from getting COVID or is their some other reason? Does the vaccine help yo reduce transmission? It sounds like their saying it doesn’t so I’m confused by the reason for the mandates. They don’t really go into that in this article.

  2. COVID-19 is a public-health issue due to its highly transmissible and conseqeuential nature. The vaccines are proven to lower the burden of death and hospitalization. Although individual beliefs will vary, Ascension made the right call by taking steps to protect its patients from dying. This decision about the common good, not an individual, is welcome. Congratulations to Ascension for exerting its courage, innovation, and kindness.

  3. Another political move for legal reasons, not a data driven scientific decision.

    Healthcare continues to be the new politics.

    Fall in line, or else… yawn.

    1. Having worked for Community Health Network for 25 years, I always thought Healthcare was about caring for people’s health.

      I suppose going smoke free was political move? Maybe requiring employee flu shots is a political move?

      Maybe you have it wrong and getting the COVID vaccine was what got politicized?

    2. Dan M, if it’s about caring for health, will you give your salary back? Or it is really a huge “non-profit” hospital/government/insurance industrial complex? I’d rather Community Health mandate all employees have a BMI below a certain level.

  4. I am in Vienna, Austria now. Here is how they are handling it: Vaccines are not required by the government are required to get into the country. Any restaurant is allowed to ask for your vax card. You are free to do want you want just not as free as someone who is vaccinated. In Vienna, masks are required on subways and trams but it is not nearly as bad as Munich. The state of Bavaria requires KN95 masks in all public spaces. This is a bit overkill for vaxed people but it is what they are doing. In regards to Ascension, not sure I want to be treated by a medical provider that is too dumb to take a vax that is 95% (pfizer) effective. I am as conservative they come and think freedom has responsibilities. I also do not want to give health “officials” more ammo to bankrupt anymore business. The mRNA tech that created the vaccine is a marvel of human ingenuity but we just need the wisdom to use the science to our full benefit.