Guthrie Protecting Patients From Influenza

Sayre, Pa. – Guthrie has taken an important step in protecting patients by vaccinating employees for the influenza vaccine and as of Nov. 30 at noon over 95 percent of employees scheduled to work next week have either received the vaccination, have a medical exemption or will use an alternative protective measure.

Guthrie Clinic employs more than 1,600 people and more than 99.5 percent complied with the policy as of noon on Nov. 30.

Guthrie hospitals and administration is comprised of 3,400 employees, students and volunteers and 92 percent of those have complied with the policy as of noon on Nov. 30.

Guthrie has joined a growing number of organizations that support requiring influenza vaccination of health care workers including: American Association of Pediatrics, American College of Physicians, National Patient Safety Foundation, plus hundreds of health care organizations which currently mandate annual employee influenza vaccination including Johns Hopkins Medicine, Baltimore, M.D.; Norton Healthcare, Louisville, Ky.; Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Philadelphia, Pa.; Geisinger, Danville, Pa.; and Lourdes Hospital in Binghamton, N.Y. In Pennsylvania, more than 80 hospitals already have adopted the requirement, according to the Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania.

"The uptick in reported influenza activity in New York State keeps us sharply focused on implementation of the employee influenza vaccine policy,” said Brian Fillipo, MD, MMM, Chief Medical Officer. He added, “We believe, as a health care provider, it's our responsibility and obligation to do what we can to keep our patients and employees safe. This week Guthrie Corning Hospital has had 27confirmed cases and 5 admissions from influenza A.”

Frank Belardi, MD, FAAFP, President for Guthrie Clinic, stated “The Guthrie Clinic physician board determined this was important to the health and safety of their patients and took the lead on moving Guthrie toward compliance with this public health initiative. All physicians working for Guthrie Clinic will be in compliance with the policy by the end of the day.”

Employees who do not comply with the policy will be unscheduled to work and will not be placed on the schedule until they comply with the policy or until the end of the influenza season, which is May 1, 2013. Patient care will not be affected by unscheduled employees.

Fillipo added, "We understand personal preference, but we also have to look at the greater good, for the organization and the patients who put their health in our hands.” He added, “It is no different than the other immunizations we require for employment."

Guthrie also requires immunizations for DPT/TDaP (Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus), Inactivated Poliovirus (Polio Vaccine), MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) and that employees have an annual PPD test.

Guthrie Health is a community-based, not-for-profit health care system jointly formed by Guthrie Healthcare System (GHS) and Guthrie Clinic, also not-for-profit health care organizations. GHS provides inpatient, outpatient and home-based services through Guthrie Corning Hospital, Guthrie Troy Community Hospital, Guthrie Robert Packer Hospital, and Guthrie Home Care and Guthrie Hospice. Guthrie Clinic provides primary and specialty physician services at 25 regional clinics. Guthrie Health provides care for 200,000 patients annually within its eleven-county service area across the northern tier of Pennsylvania and the southern tier of New York.