Banner Churchill Community Hospital unites to fight flu
Remarkably, nearly 100 percent of the 36,000 employees in Banner Health have also complied with the company’s No Flu For You policy.
This commitment by Banner employees to decrease the risk of flu infections among fellow employees and patients is especially timely as the Centers for Disease Control is predicting an early start to a potentially heavy and deadly flu season.
All employees and volunteers were required to receive the flu vaccine, which was offered at no cost. Those unable to receive the vaccination because of medical or religious reasons were able to receive an exemption but will wear masks during the flu season to protect patients, themselves, other employees, and our visitors.
Nationwide, the CDC reported that in 2010-2011 flu season, only 63.5 percent of health care workers received the flu vaccination. This is troubling in light of the fact that 8 percent of patients who contract the flu in a hospital setting will die.
“At Banner Churchill Community Hospital, 287 staff, or 100 percent of our employees including physicians, received the flu shot. We want to be sure we are providing as safe an environment as possible for our patients. Our staff always has patient safety in mind with everything they do. I am very proud of our team members and their focus on our patients and families,” said John D’Angelo, CEO Banner Churchill Community Hospital.
“Patients and families who turn to Banner Health can be assured that our employees have taken the necessary steps to ensure their safety and prevent the spread of the flu,” said Marjorie Bessel, MD, chief medical officer for Banner’s Arizona East Region.
This policy is in place at all of Banner’s facilities including all of its acute-care hospitals and other health care facilities in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Nebraska, Nevada and Wyoming. At least 11 states, including Colorado, have regulations enacted regarding influenza immunization of health care workers, either requiring immunization or an exemption for medical, religious or philosophical reasons.
The only Banner employees who have not complied with the policy are non-core staff, most of whom have not worked for Banner in many months. Nonetheless, Banner is working with these employees to make sure they are compliant before picking up any additional shifts.
The flu is a contagious and deadly disease, contributing to more than 36,000 preventable deaths annually in the U.S. Vaccination is a very effective way to prevent it. According for the Centers of Disease Control, flu vaccination of health care workers have been shown to help prevent death in patients, as well as reduce the influenza infection.
The flu shot that’s given to all health care workers and the general public this year protects against two strains of influenza A and influenza B virus. This year, shots became available in September since flu season typically begins in October with spikes in January and February. The vaccine protects for about one year.
ABOUT BANNER HEALTH
Headquartered in Phoenix, Banner Health is one of the largest, nonprofit health care systems in the country. The system owns or manages 23 acute-care hospitals, long-term care centers, outpatient surgery centers and an array of other services including physician clinics and home care and hospice services. Banner Health is in seven states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Nebraska, Nevada and Wyoming.