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FMH Requires COVID-19 Vaccine for New Workers

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Robyne
/
KUAC

Like many other medical providers in Alaska, Foundation Health Partners is now requiring all new employees to be vaccinated against COVID 19 or receive an exemption based on sincerely held religious beliefs or validated medical conditions.

In mandating the COVID-19 vaccine for the new hires, FHP joined a growing number of hospitals, health systems, and corporations requiring the vaccine for COVID-19.

FHP chief medical officer, Dr. Angelique Ramirez, says the policy demonstrates the commitment to safety.

Taken a position from the beginning, based on the science and based on the evidence and based on what works, we've taken the position from the beginning that the vaccine is important.

New employees will know coming in the door that it's a requirement.

Having vaccines that are mandated and required is part of a long tradition in healthcare and healthcare organizations, including us have long required vaccines as a condition of employment.

The FHP board voted in the policy which begins next Monday, August 16th and covers only new employees. Ramirez says the board will revisit requiring COVID-19 vaccines for existing employees, who are already about 75% vaccinated.

Many of our employees have told us that they would be comfortable with taking the vaccine, once the Emergency Use Authorization was removed. And out of respect for our employees, who've been with us for -- and through a lot-- the board chose to revisit the decision of mandating it for our employees after the Emergency Use Authorization was removed.

When she says they’ve been through a lot, she means that people didn’t ask to practice during a pandemic. At the start of August, the hospital had five patients die from COVID-19. They were a broad spectrum of ages, young and old. One was not an Alaska resident. Only one was vaccinated. Ramirez says it took a psychological toll on the staff.

We all chose healthcare. None of us chose this experience of healthcare. I think most of us have accepted it and kind of risen to it. Um, I think though for all of us, so many of us have answered so many different emotions based on our roles. They're all different types of experiences, but nobody has had a chance to process any of those, because, you know, things slow down for a bit and then you're right back on the roller coaster.

Foundation Health Partners employs about 1,850 people at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, Tanana Valley Clinic and Denali Center, the long-term care facility.