CLEVELAND — The MetroHealth System joins the local Summa Health System in requiring employees, including contractors and volunteers, to receive the COVID-19 vaccine for the safety of its patients by Oct. 30.
“Protecting caregivers against COVID-19 is the right thing to do,” said MetroHealth President and CEO Akram Boutros, MD. “Our profession has been hailed as heroic because we were there when there was no protection from this disease. We cared for people and put ourselves at risk. We don’t have to do that anymore. We can and have to take care of our patients and ourselves.”
Boutros spoke to reporters shortly after announcing the vaccine mandate. Watch it in the media player below:
MetroHealth says 80% of its staff is fully vaccinated.
When asked what percentage of the those unvaccinated make up those directly related to medical care like doctors and nurses, Boutros said “everyone is directly related to healthcare” and said he believes most of the hospital's clinical staff is vaccinated and says those who are unvaccinated could include volunteers, contractors and vendors.
Vaccine requirements for health employees are not new. The hospital already requires annual flu vaccination.
Staffing shortages caused by a vaccine mandate have always been a concern for Boutros.
"We don't take this decision easily, and we know we may lose some employees. And I'm going to be very sorry to see them go. But we also know we will attract,” he said.
There will be exceptions for those who cannot be vaccinated for medical or religious reasons.
“We stand united to keep our patients, staff, and community safe by giving the best protection possible against COVID-19,” said Amy Ray, MD, Medical Director of Infection Prevention. “Every employee in our organization deserves the greatest protection available so that every patient who crosses our doors can be assured of safety.”
While MetroHealth is requiring its staff to be vaccinated, University Hospitals isn't taking things to that level as of now.
"Right now, COVID-19 vaccines are strongly encouraged but not mandatory for University Hospitals employees. Caregivers who choose not to receive the vaccine are required to wear the PPE appropriate to their work environment and continue to practice hygiene recommendations and physical distancing," a statement from University Hospitals said. "These current practices continue to be effective for the protection of employees and patients throughout the pandemic. We continue to carefully monitor the incidence of COVID-19 and vaccination rates among our employees and in our community to help guide any future changes to our vaccination policy."
Visit our Vaccinating Ohio page for the latest updates on Ohio's vaccination program, including links to sign up for a vaccine appointment, a map of nearby vaccination sites, a detailed breakdown of the state's current vaccine phase, and continuing local coverage of COVID-19 vaccines in Northeast Ohio.
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