NVRH is Choosing Health
Balancing Patient and Staff Health in Vaccine Policy Considerations
St. Johnsbury, VT (August 16, 2021) –Should the COVID-19 vaccine achieve full FDA approval by the end of the summer, Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital (NVRH) announces plans to craft a policy to require vaccinations for providers and staff in order to best protect patients, staff and our community.
“Throughout the pandemic, our organization has had to remain informed and flexible always putting safety and health first,” NRVH CEO Shawn Tester stated. “As we watch the Delta variant of the virus take hold in Vermont, we know we have to do all we can to protect those who are most vulnerable, and that includes our patients. It has been a long 16 months and we have much to be proud of, but it’s important to recognize that we are not out of the woods yet.”
NVRH Chief Medical Officer Dr. Michael Rousse, MD, has closely monitored the prevalence of COVID-19 throughout the pandemic, using local and national surveillance systems to inform the local response. Dr. Rousse, referencing the “fourth wave” of the COVID pandemic, largely attributes the steep increase in cases to the Delta variant that is impacting mostly unvaccinated individuals throughout much of the US. The NVRH Incident Command Team monitors and evaluates science-based guidelines to ensure policies are adopted that reflect the most current recommendations for masking guidelines, visitor restrictions and travel policies for all staff.
“Policies change as the situation warrants,” Dr. Rousse shared. “NVRH strives to keep our patients and staff safe and infection-free.”
“I deeply respect and appreciate the way the leadership of NVRH has worked with the ongoing challenges of COVID-19 and its variants,” stated NVRH Board Chair Jane Arthur. “I have witnessed their thoughtfulness in making decisions and crafting policies following the science, putting people’s health first and balancing people’s concerns along the way. It is an incredibly difficult task. The bottom line for me is that people come to their local hospital expecting not to be exposed to a higher probability of becoming infected with COVID-19 or any of its variants. We owe it to our community to provide this level of safety when people are at their most vulnerable.”
While the State of Vermont has achieved a significant accomplishment with the vaccination of 84% of all eligible residents, the rate is much lower in Caledonia (71%), Essex (59%) and Orleans (71%) Counties.
“At this point, getting the vaccine is the single most important thing we can do to keep our communities and loved ones safe,” Tester continued. “Please, if you have not already, get the vaccine as soon as you can,” he added.
Additionally, with COVID-19 case counts rising amid the spread of the Delta variant, more than 50 health care professional societies and organizations nationally have called for all health care employers to require their employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems (VAHHS) released a statement on August 5, 2021 supporting vaccine requirements for health care workers across the state. VAHHS’ public statement acknowledged that “Hospitals have played a major role in coordinating Vermont’s effective response to the pandemic and in helping to educate Vermonters. Health care workers now have an opportunity to help boost public awareness and confidence by becoming 100% vaccinated themselves.”
Over the next few weeks, NVRH will be developing a vaccine policy and will share with staff and the public once it is complete.
“Thank you to our amazing staff for all the work they are doing, especially those who are still working the frontline in this fight. Thanks to our community as well for doing your part. We will get through this if we stick together and all do our part,” Tester concluded.