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AN UPDATE TO OUR COMMUNITY ON REQUIRED COVID-19 VACCINATIONS FOR OUR TEAM

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

AN UPDATE TO OUR COMMUNITY ON REQUIRED COVID-19 VACCINATIONS FOR OUR TEAM
November 3, 2021

Since announcing in September that it will require COVID-19 vaccination for its workforce by November 1, 2021, more than 96% of Augusta Health team members have received the COVID-19 vaccination, begun their vaccination series or have received an approved exemption. Paperwork and documentation from contract staff, volunteers, students, and other workers not employed by Augusta Health who provide patient care and are covered by the policy is still being processed; it is anticipated that those numbers will be available late next week.

"I am very proud of our team's commitment to the community, the safety of our patients, and each other," said Mary N. Mannix, President and CEO of Augusta Health.

Before the requirement was announced, just under 80% of Augusta Health's team had been vaccinated for COVID-19. The decision to require a COVID-19 vaccination was unanimously supported by the Board of Directors and is consistent with existing vaccination policy at Augusta Health. Team members are required to get an annual flu shot and stay current with other vaccinations such as measles, mumps and whooping cough. Additionally, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced in early September that they will require vaccinations for healthcare workers at Medicare and Medicaid certified hospitals. Augusta Health is in alignment with CMS and federal guidelines and regulations.

Augusta Health provided a robust information campaign on the vaccine for its team members. More than eight Town Hall or information sessions were held for those with concerns and questions about the vaccine. A Q&A Board was established on the employee intranet, and individual meetings were scheduled so all could feel confident about getting the vaccine. Religious and medical exemptions were reviewed by appropriate panels.

"We did not want to lose a single team member because of this policy, but we know in our hearts and in our minds that we must do all we can to keep our team and our community safe, healthy and protected from this virus. It's a complicated decision, but the most effective way to attain that level of safety and protection is through vaccination," said John Boswell, Vice President of Human Resources at Augusta Health.

As of November 1, no employees had been terminated for not being vaccinated for COVID, although some have been suspended for a period to provide an opportunity to come into compliance. Those on an approved leave of absence are required to be vaccinated on their return to work date.

"While we are disappointed that some team members did not embrace this safety standard, Augusta Health remains more than 2,300 caregivers strong," added Boswell. "They are incredibly supportive of each other. Our mantra for almost two years has been 'We will get through this together'."

Augusta Health has consistently advocated for vaccination as the best path forward to make a lasting impact on the pandemic. The data and science have consistently reinforced the safety and effectiveness of these vaccines, and the FDA has provided permanent approval. Anyone who would like to schedule a vaccination can make an appointment at https://vaccinate.augustahealth.com/