Williamson Medical Center boasts 98 percent employee flu vaccination rate
As flu season nears, Williamson Medical Center employees are doing their part to help keep patients safe from dangerous respiratory illnesses.
For the past two years, WMC has had a 98.4 percent vaccination rate among its 1,400 employees. That rate far surpasses the 68 percent national average for health care workers reported in 2011 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The flu vaccine is offered free of charge to all 1,400 employees, 150 volunteers and more than 600 credentialed physicians at the Medical Center.
“All health care workers should put their patients first and get vaccinated,” says Thomas Spiller, R.N., occupational health nurse at Williamson Medical Center. “Not only does the vaccine protect patients who may already have a weakened immune system, it also makes the workplace safer for employees.”
WMC saw employee vaccination numbers soar by 30 percent two years ago after Administration implemented a flu vaccination program that required participation from all employees. Still in effect today, the program does not mandate every employee be vaccinated. Rather it requires those who decline the vaccine for a variety of reasons to sign a declination form and wear a mask while in patient care areas for the duration of the flu season, which generally lasts through March.
“Patient safety is our top priority. However, we realized from the start of the program that not all of our employees would be able to take the vaccine based on CDC guidelines, so we decided to offer an alternative option,” Spiller says. “Even though some of our employees are unable to get vaccinated due to allergies or religious beliefs, they’re still able to help keep our patients safe by wearing a mask. We want our patients to know that we’re taking every precaution to make their hospital stay as safe as possible.”
Flu worsens existing conditions
A flu patient is contagious up to 48 hours before showing signs of infection: Sudden coughing, sneezing, fever, aches and chills are tell-tell signs of influenza.
While the flu may not always be severe, complications from the virus often worsen existing medical conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease and heart disease, and may extend recovery time. Pregnant women, young children and elderly adults are at higher risk for flu-like complications.
For information about Williamson Medical Center, visit www.williamsonmedicalcenter.org.
Posted on: 9/26/2012