Summit County health facilities still ironing out details for their mandated vaccine policies |

Summit County health facilities still ironing out details for their mandated vaccine policies

Others, like St. Anthony Summit Medical Center, have already rolled out their guidelines

Dr. Wyatt Hall works May 5, 2020, inside the emergency room at St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in Frisco. All personnel and staff at the facility are now mandated to receive a vaccine per new emergency rules by the state’s board of health.
Jason Connolly/Summit Daily News archives

On Aug. 30, the state’s board of health announced it was approving vaccine requirements for staff at health care facilities and hospitals, and nearly 1 1/2 weeks later, many local health care settings are still working out the details on how they’ll adhere to these new guidelines.

According to a news release from the state, about 30% of the state’s health care workers remain unvaccinated. Under the new guidelines, all personnel interacting with individuals seeking medical care must receive a COVID-19 vaccine. The announcement came on the heels of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s decision to fully approve the Pfizer vaccine.

The health care facilities that must follow the new requirement are those outlined in a revised statute from 2017, some of which include hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, birthing centers, home care agencies, acute treatment units, community clinics and community mental health centers. Facilities the board of health does not have authority over include individual health care practitioners or staff, primary care offices and urgent care locations.

Centura Health spokesperson Brent Boyer said the health organization is following these new guidelines at its locations, including St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in Frisco.

“To comply with the regulations, we have activated our COVID-19 vaccination policy that applies to our 21,000 incredible caregivers, physicians, students, volunteers, contractors and community board members,” Boyer wrote in an email.

The state board of health’s news release cited the rise of the delta variant as one of the contributing factors in approving these mandates, and Boyer said the same in his email.

“With the rise in the delta variant and community spread, we remain hopeful that more people throughout our communities get vaccinated,” he wrote.

Up until now, Chief Executive Officer Lee Boyles said the organization hadn’t mandated vaccines on its own but instead focused on encouraging personnel to get the shot.

“All along, our focus has been on strongly encouraging vaccination of all our caregivers by providing them with factual information and data about the vaccine and its effectiveness,” Boyles wrote in an email. “More recently, we offered a $500 appreciation bonus to every employee who got fully vaccinated, and we’ve now seen about 80% of employees across Centura achieve full vaccination. We know mandating something doesn’t typically impact an employee’s willingness or desire to do it.”

As for how successful the rollout of the program has been, Boyles said the responses from staff have been “generally positive” and that he’s not aware of any personnel who have left or expressed a desire to leave as a result of the state’s vaccine mandate.

“We value all of our caregivers and certainly don’t want anyone to leave our organization as a result of the mandate,” he said.

Beyond the local hospital, a few other local health care settings are still ironing out the details of their policies. Dr. Kathleen Cowie, chief medical officer for Summit Community Care Clinic wrote in an email that the clinic is planning to mandate vaccines for all patient-facing employees starting Oct. 1 but that the team is still working out the details for the remainder of the staff. She declined to answer more questions.

Michael Holten, chief marketing and experience officer for Vail Health, also said the health institution was still working on the final language for its policy.

Other leaders at settings including Ebert Family Clinic in Frisco and Summit Dental Group in Dillon said they didn’t need to activate a new policy because their staff was already vaccinated.

“All 12 of our staff made the voluntary decision to get vaccinated early this year,” Summit Dental Dr. Bryan Hilton wrote in an email. “Fortunately, we have not had to deal with this difficult and unfortunate situation.”

Some health care settings did not return a request for comment, such as Ten Mile Dental and Innovative Family Dental.

According to a news release, the state’s board of health will convene again in October to consider the rule in a regular session. The new requirement was initially approved through emergency rules.

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