Though some state health care associations have endorsed vaccine mandates for all of Kentucky’s health care personnel, Owensboro Health has not implemented such a requirement. OH officials said they are taking a proactive approach to vaccinating team members — to date, about two-thirds have been vaccinated — as part of a comprehensive COVID-19 safety plan.
OH officials also announced via Facebook that beginning Monday, “One way we’re limiting the chance of exposure inside our hospitals is by asking each patient to designate only one support person to visit them for the duration of their inpatient stay or for a surgical procedure.”
For more information on current policies, including policies regarding the Emergency Department, Maternity Services and pediatric patients, visit OwensboroHealth.org/Visit.
Regarding vaccinations, a joint statement released Thursday by the Kentucky Hospital Association, Kentucky Medical Association and the Kentucky Nurses Association reads, “KHA, KMA and KNA support hospitals and health systems amending their existing vaccine policies to require COVID-19 vaccines for their health care employees. Vaccination against COVID-19 is our best tool to prevent spread of the disease, protect our patients and ensure the health and well-being of our hospital workforce and all Kentuckians. We recognize that each hospital and health system is unique and encourage each hospital and health system to determine the appropriate timeline to implement a requirement.”
During Gov. Andy Beshear’s media conference Thursday, hospital executives from 11 health care systems in the commonwealth announced they were requiring their workforces to initiate a complete COVID-19 vaccination series no later than Sept. 15.
At OH, health system leaders are encouraging team members to get vaccinated through education, communication and new incentive programs, according to a statement from OH. Chief Medical Officer Dr. Francis DuFrayne said officials are confident the numbers will continue to rise through these ongoing efforts.
“Owensboro Health strongly believes in the importance of vaccination, and we are working every day to educate our entire community — including our team members,” DuFrayne said. “We are making excellent progress.”
According to DuFrayne, vaccine education for team members is only one part of a robust safety program that provides a safe environment of care for patients and families while also protecting employees. Other parts of the plan include:
- Strict masking requirements at Owensboro Health facilities
- Regular education about the importance of masking, social distancing and hand sanitation
- Screenings for both team members and visitors
- Limited visitation at Owensboro Health hospitals
- Regular review and adjustment of PPE protocols
- Rigorous cleaning and sanitation processes for Owensboro Health facilities
- Telework for eligible team members
- Pre-procedure testing for patients
- Isolation of COVID-19 patients
- Established protocols and return-to-work processes for team members who travel, get exposed or become sick
- A Payroll Protection Plan for team members
- Oversight of our entire safety program by the COVID-19 steering committee
“From the beginning of the pandemic, Owensboro Health has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to keeping everyone as safe as possible in our facilities,” DuFrayne said. “We are monitoring the virus very closely in our communities and will make decisions that are in the best interests of our team members and patients. Across the organization, our team works together in numerous ways to take excellent care of our patients in a safe, reliable manner.”
The latest COVID-19 update from the Green River District Health Department is available here.