UnityPoint Health announced on Thursday more than 33,000 team members will be required to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. The health system serves three states.
All employees are required to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 1, 2021.
“We remain incredibly grateful to our health care providers, who have seen the devastation of COVID-19 up close and personal over the past 18 months,” said Clay Holderman, President and CEO of UnityPoint Health. “After thoughtful consideration, we believe this vaccination requirement will help keep our team members, patients and communities as healthy as possible, so we can focus on what we do best—delivering exceptional care to those we serve.”
Those who choose not to become vaccinated will be subject to voluntary resignation or termination. Exemptions for medical or religious reasons may be requested. There will also be temporary deferral for pregnant employees.
“The COVID vaccine is safe and effective in terms of preventing severe disease, hospitalization and death,” said Dr. Dave Williams, Chief Clinical Officer of UnityPoint Health. “The continued wave of infections throughout the country make it clear we are not done fighting this pandemic, which means more people need to get vaccinated, especially before an anticipated increase of respiratory illnesses this fall.”
Holderman sent out an email to employees earlier this week saying the organization is acutely aware of staff vacancies and shortages in light of high volumes. He said the chief nursing executive and chief human resources officer are “deliberately focused” on recruitment and retention efforts.
“You’ll hear more about that work in the coming weeks,” he wrote.
Then he noted more than 70 health care systems mandating the vaccine. He said UnityPoint spent recent weeks deliberately asking for feedback from team members, providers and “specific stakeholder” groups like the company’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council and Culture Advisory Council.
“I expect to share more information with the organization later this week,” he wrote. “Above all, I want you to know that we can handle the next wave of COVID-19. The organizational temperature is heating up, and I can feel the stress. I get it. We’ve been through a lot already and every turn in this pandemic is daunting. However, this time is different. We know more about treating the virus, we have plenty of PPE stockpiled and, most importantly, we are better protected due to the vaccine as an extra level of assurance.”
The Iowa Standard stands by its call for Gov. Kim Reynolds to issue an Executive Order protecting employees in the state of Iowa.