NEW ORLEANS, La. (KLFY) — Employees of the Ochsner Health system across Louisiana will be mandated to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 29, according to a release.
As of today, approximately 69 percent of Ochsner Health employees are vaccinated, officials stated. Today, Ochsner said it is caring for 979 COVID-19 patients. More than 88% (865) are unvaccinated.
The news comes one day after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave full approval to Pfizer’s COVID vaccine. It also comes on the same day that Louisiana announced its highest one-day death toll from COVID at 139 deaths on Monday. Louisiana currently ranks 46th in the country for vaccinations, with only 39 percent of Louisiana residents fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
“Healthcare workers have experienced unbelievable challenges and sacrificed so much over the last 18 months to keep our patients and community safe. We owe them a debt of gratitude, and more than that, we owe them meaningful action,” said Ochsner Health President/CEO Warner Thomas. “This policy is the right thing to do to protect our employees, their families, and our patients.”
The vaccination mandate includes all leaders, physicians, employees and new hires and applies to clinical and corporate full-time and part-time workers at Ochsner Health-owned facilities. In addition to employees, all vendors, medical and allied health students, contract employees, PRN, agency nurses and volunteers will also be required to demonstrate proof of vaccination before rounding or working at an Ochsner Health campus.
Ochsner’s new policy follows months of internal encouragement and education, said officials. Employees have been offered additional vacation time and 24-hour vaccine availability. Vaccine experts have hosted Q&A sessions, one-on-one meetings and made rounds with vaccine carts to answer questions and make vaccination as convenient as possible. Ochsner will continue to offer its employees and community members ongoing opportunities to learn about the vaccine and how it works.
“Many people who are not getting vaccinated are citing information that is not accurate,” said Thomas. “I implore anyone who is unsure about the vaccine to reach out to their physician to discuss their concerns. We remain committed to serving as a resource and source of truth for our employees, patients and community members. And for those who are not getting vaccinated because they do not believe the virus will make them seriously ill, we need your help to protect not only yourselves, but others, like young children who do not have the option to get vaccinated. As a community, we must come together to stop the virus from spreading to kids and others who are vulnerable to infection.”
“Ochsner cares for physically vulnerable people, and we have an ethical obligation to protect them from COVID-19,” said Ochsner Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Robert Hart. “As we are in the midst of another surge due to the Delta variant, we need to stop this virus in its tracks. Vaccination is the only way, and as healthcare providers, it is our responsibility to lead by example, while protecting our employees and our patients from the spread of this highly contagious Delta variant.”